Here Comes the Tide, There Goes the Girl is one of four plays presented by CalArts at venue 13 this year and is steeped in their tradition of producing original material that stretches the imagination and provides often quirky theatre.
Ludicrous entertainment and mystifying radicalisation
It’s a take on Hamlet but one that is very well disguised. The action is set in a family’s backyard somewhere in middle USA. The scenic and costume design by Jac Langheim is bright and colourful, with the stage covered in an astroturf lawn. Various items of garden furniture are scattered around it and a large inflatable dolphin (Dolly) hangs from the ceiling. Ophelia (Perry Goeders), a fish, quite reasonably sits in the kiddie pool and stubbornly refuses to leave. She is the only one who is able to hear what Dolly has to say. It’s all a far cry from Elsinore!
The bizarre elements pile up, although four people playing badminton from one side of the stage to the other as the play opens seems quite normal. In keeping with the original Gert (Brenan Dwyer) has married her deceased husband’s brother, though quite why Ham (Isaias Miranda) is talking to the blender is less clear. Meanwhile Claude (Brian Drummy) indulges in his food obsession and Paul (James Majewskij) is full of great ideas in his karaoke-obsessed world, but is unable to remember them. Then there is the mystery as to why the pool appeared overnight, following the sudden and unexplained disappearance of Ham’s father, and what it might be covering up. The storm that is brewing in the skies reflects increasing tensions around the garden between the members of this dysfunctional family.
Nadja Leonhard-Hooper’s play is full of vaguely dark, surrealist comedic nonsense. The cast clearly has fun and the quality of performance is of a uniformly high standard, given the eccentric demands made on their characters. If you’re looking for some ludicrous entertainment and mystifying radicalisation of Shakespeare this might just be your cup of tea.