There’s no confetti in Confetti, but there is a complex mix of language and movement that makes it intriguing. This year CalArts Festival Theater celebrates ‘13 At 13’, marking its 13th year staging plays at Venue 13. Their works have always been challenging, but with the raked seats and ample area, their performances are always well displayed and visually exciting. This production with Sublevel Theater Group is no exception.

A play that fascinates rather than entertains.

The acting area is dominated by a cubed-shaped scaffolding that will soon have one side draped in a large sheet. Scene designer Melanie Waingarten’s metal construction is on wheels that enable its rotation to delineate divisions in the action and changeovers between characters. The sound design by Ashley Diaz employs sharply contrasting effects. The play opens with the spring-like sounds of birds tweeting, conveying the sense that love is in the air only to be followed by headache-inducing noises suggesting mental strife.

Cal and Lliope hold hands and stand transfixed, each staring into the depths of the other. Abruptly, they kiss and Cal launches into a scene of linguistic confusion that indicates his troubled mind. What follows suggests that his total absorption in his work and immersion in his art has rendered him unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. His life is further muddled by the appearance of Lliope, or rather two of her. Her ambiguity as a character adds to his mental mess. There is the one with whom he does seemingly everyday things and other who exists only in his head; the one in whom he believed and the one he now doubts. Either way, she begins to distract as much as she inspires. He questions her credibility and in so doing questions his own worth and achievement. As he daubs paint on the sheet so his art becomes the outward expression of his inner turmoil.

Zack Gearing vividly portrays Cal’s fragile state, with Moriah Martel and Megan Hackett balancing the conflicting positions that Lliope occupies in his life. Sweet moments of endearment are lovingly portrayed as well as the menacing bitterness that confuses Cal’s consciousness. Ambrose Cappuccio’s script provides plenty of existentialist dialogue of conflicting rationality and irrationality that draws Cal further into his alien world. While the cast seem at home in this area, they appeared less so in the movement sequences, some of which came over as clumsy and difficult to manage.

The extensive abstractness and inherent confusion in Confetti doesn’t always make it’s sense easy to follow, but attempting to do is worthwhile. It is a play that fascinates rather than entertains and creates mysteries to ponder rather than answers that satisfy.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Cal believes he’s diagnosed with a sickening love for Lliope, believing she is his dream girl. He manifests Lliope in his mind to help somehow sedate his obsessions. When the true Lliope presents herself, she challenges him to a deep and dark understanding of the powers of infatuation and desire. From the anxious dreamscape of Cal’s imagination, his obsessions wrestle her ruthlessness. With themes of desire, escape, ideologies of love, and the world of the artist, Sublevel Theater Group will present a wild play that poetically examines the unsuspecting consequences of model love stained by desire.