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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 6, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 32
Imagination a dark Glenn Beck satire
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Imagination a dark Glenn Beck satire

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Her Mother Was Imagination
Annex Theatre
Through August 28


The description for the world-premiere play Her Mother Was Imagination at the Annex Theatre included that it's about 'a post-constitutional society who have embraced Glenn Beck as their leader and submit their lives to the will of the Elders.' It's summer, and that sounds like a good premise for getting likkered up and going to have a good ol' time making fun of the Glennster. While there is an aspect of that, don't be so quick to think the play's a laugh fest. Elizabeth Heffron is not necessarily known for writing comedies. In fact, aside from the beginning original song that introduces Glenn Beck by having a guy wear a facemask on his head, there's not much Beck in the story. Too bad. This reviewer would really love an opportunity to laugh my head off at Glenn Beck and his so-bizarre-you-can't-make-this-shit-up pronouncements.

The song tells how the prophet Glenn Beck became the Elder-est of the Elders in an empty high-rise (the WaMu tower, apparently), now populated by people who are trapped inside, afraid of going out where the rest of the populace is exposed to such polluted air that they are infected and destined for very quick and ugly death.

So, this post-apocalyptic vision creates a world where no one is living well, ever. Not the decrepit Elders, who are living on some sort of human-juice extract that those living on the lower levels are required to provide in exchange for living in the tower. Not the tower residents, who are at the mercy of the Elders and afraid of going outside, and whose daughters are supposed to propagate the next generation by having sex with the Elders, starting at age 18, in a ritual sacrifice (they are to give up their children at birth, as well). Not the rest of the "world," who is poisoned and living only to serve the tower.

While the performance is interesting in a kind of sick and discouraging way, the most discomfort is felt in the sprawling length of the production - which is similar to a number of world premiere Annex productions (many of which could use judicious trimming before presentation) - and the fact that women are so retro-historically used in this future vision, and seem to mostly simply take it due to vigorous brainwashing techniques.

There is a rogue-mother rebel figure who exhorts people to come back to the circle of life, opposing the phallic, pointed tower of oppression. But she is not given any real ability to succeed, since she is dying as all outsiders are dying. The inevitability of the extinguishment of the human race seems to hang imminently over the center story.

Many in the ensemble are very watchable, so the evening is definitely worth a try, as long as you don't come thinking you're going to laugh your ass off. Ensemble members include David Gassner, Sann Hall, Jesse Keeter, Conner Marx, Carrie McIntyre, Beth Peterson, Erin Pike, Peter Richards, Michael Stock, and Sarah Warren. Pike is particularly notable as the youngest daughter, who goes through the most travail and escapes the tower looking to find her mother and her freedom. Carrie McIntyre plays a daughter who is totally brainwashed and even allows the confiscation of a child, and contributes a lovely singing voice to the musical portions.

Annex, having used pedal-power to good effect before, is including it as part of the production - although this time it's in their lobby, and rather tangential to the production. It speaks to designer Max Riechlin's dismay of the amount of energy consumed in theaters and a creative solution to limiting carbon footprint, which is laudable. But it's really only usefully linked if every production Annex does from here on out will be pedal-powered.

For more information, go to www.annextheatre.org or call 206-728-0933.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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