Oscar E Moore

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SONTAG: REBORN at NYTW: a smoke screen

June 7th, 2013 by Oscar E Moore

This one person multi-media production does nothing to make you want to run out and read anything that Susan Sontag ever wrote – especially her journals on which SONTAG: REBORN is based – edited by her son David Rieff and directed by Marianne Weems (founder of The Builders Association – co-producer with NYTW) a good friend of Ms. Sontag who personally had a hand or two in developing this unfortunate piece performed and adapted by Moe Angelos.

We wonder what made this aloof, super smart Jewish wunderkind, chain smoking, tri-lingual essayist, critic, novelist and sexually charged and confused (she was married and bore a son and had many lesbian lovers) into the international “cause celebre” that she was. 

We learn that she was an avid reader (we hear almost all the titles), loved to travel and teach and that she was a Capricorn – which explains a lot. 

I thought it almost impossible that an actress, in this case Moe Angelos, could be upstaged by herself.   But upstage herself she does as an older, larger than life black and white filmed projection of Sontag hovers throughout – overseeing and smoking and giving us time and place and sometimes commenting.

The video projections and close-ups on an upstage screen are extraordinary by Austin Switser as is the sound design by Dan Dobson.  But when you take away these technical accoutrements there is less here than meets the ear.

Ms. Angelos lacks the passion and the angst, delivering the contents of Sontag’s journals in a monotone that could induce sleep without the marvelous multi media circus going on that induces one to wonder “how’d they do that?”

The sofa of Sue Mengers in Bette Midler’s terrific one woman homage “I’LL EAT YOU LAST” has been replaced here with a desk.  Sue Mengers has been replaced by Susan Sontag and entertainment and insight have been replaced by humorless intellectual boredom, despite the Herculean efforts to keep the audience awake by the spectacular visuals.

Served up without intermission.  Through June 30th


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