Telephone

Ariana Reines. Wonder, $14.95 trade paper (122p) ISBN 978-0-9895985-8-3
Performance artist, translator, and literary alchemist Reines (Mercury) puts to the page her maniacally absurdist Obie Award–winning dramatic work about how communication evolves with technology. Inspired by Avital Ronell’s multidisciplinary investigation of the telephone and the work of Carl Jung, Thomas Watson, and Alexander Graham Bell, Reines’s play explores the inevitable limits of communication through metaphysical repartee, oracular delusion, and speech catatonia. The first act features a dialogue of genteel angst concerning the fallibility of expression. As Watson says to Bell, “perhaps some of what one says makes sense and perhaps it makes so much sense that the other one cannot bear it.” Reines’s second act follows an emotionally tumultuous schizophrenic convinced that she has a telephone in her body, resulting in a maelstrom of prescient insights and nonsensical proclamations: “I AM THE BELL THE NOTE-FACTORY THE MONOPOLY.” The closing act, “The Lovers,” moves through a series of turbulent, tedious, or semantically oblique exchanges (“what do you want me to say”) between two individuals struggling to simultaneously achieve authenticity and harmony. The work may initially appear daunting to readers unaccustomed to absurdism, but it offers much to both poetic and dramaturgical readings. Poignant and hilarious, Reines’s work is emotionally resonant and an exemplary model of experimental writing. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Genre: Fiction
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