Present Tense by Charles Borkhuis

Two Tips-

1. A summer night at the Brick Theater in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg Brooklyn is sure to be hot; layer up to layer down for maximum enjoyment.

2. When buying a ticket ($15) you are asked for your name and e-mail; come as your alter ego. 

The night of May 24th was one part of the Tiny Theatre festival and consisted of six short one act plays. I will be reviewing Charles Borkhuis’s ‘Present Tense’. The physical situation of the play consists of two male characters, a square PVC structure which acts as a room, several layers of white lace which is draped over one character, an alarm clock and a small table where the alarm clock sits. The lace draped character is woken by the seemingly conscious character and perceives the situation to be a vivid lucid dream. The other character is a more skeptical and is sure they are in a theatre giving a performance of a play.  

The next section of the play is a conversation between the two characters where they are trying to convince each other of their own perception of the situation. The conversation can be at different times funny, satirical, silly, sad and interesting. Of course that doesn’t say anything but through these modes one can get a broader sense of what Borkhuis (who wears leather bombers) is attempting: a deep meditation of acting, stage, dialogue and how the audience perceives them. The satire is not mere satire as it critiques as well as provides an alternative to what is being critiqued. The silliness is silly on the other hand, thank god.  Towards the end of the play, after the lucid dreaming character has a slightly unconvincing nervous breakdown the ‘acting’ character gets sleepy and is covered in the layers of lace. This gives the lucid character a long monologue which explores the themes presented before but in an idiosyncratic way that touches on sentimental. The play ends with a pre recorded alarm clock sound. 

The biggest question this one act play asks is: how is a play perceived? Present Tense certainly doesn’t tell us how to perceive a play but gives us a nice set of options which is, good to have at ones disposal, as they say.

categories [ ] login or register to post comments | printer friendly version