Inside the Experience w Young Jean Lee Mar 7, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

I loved this show because it made me uncomfortable. And not in a "this guy is gonna come out and lap dance on my face" way, but in a way that makes me look inside... gulp.

The first scene put me immediately in the space and present at the show. Not only because it is scary and uncomfortable but because most of it happens as audio in the dark. My neighbors and I actually touched each other. That arm touch that says, "This is really good, but really hard, am I allowed to have these feelings? Or am I just supposed to be watching?" This scene sets the entire show up so well, partly because most of the show is a departure from the very heavy feeling it has and partly because it just makes sense.

As I was watching I kept thinking back to moments in Hey Girl. The similarity I saw between the shows is that they both put me inside an experience. Both took huge themes and ideas, shaped them, and showed them back to the audience beautifully illustrated through a simple gesture, visual, light cue, or as a dance to Mariah Carey's Christmas song. (Seriously, hilarious and yikes.) Putting large or difficult concepts through this sort of subconscious or decidedly artistic lens doesn't dilute them but makes you feel them in your body, experience them (theatrically, of course). You are being shown rather than told. And that is where I'll stop comparing the shows.

One of the most interesting things for me as a comedian/performer was listening to where the audience laughs, to hear where people are comfortable to laugh and where they aren't. Honestly, I wasn't sure where I stood as an audience member a lot of the time. Just when I thought I got the joke it turned around. At first that bothered me because I didn't want to umm... look like a jerk by laughing at something I shouldn't, but that discomfort, not knowing what exactly was going on, was actually great, I liked the confusion. I never really felt tricked, just constantly engaged.

I would like to state for the record my amazement at how Young Jean Lee nailed the tone of a certain type of current relationship with the white couple. It was like watching an American Apparel ad come to life and be as vapid, self-indulgent and relatable as you might think.

I don't care much about linear storyline or structure so I didn't miss a solid storyline but, my one wish for the arc of the show would be for the Asian characters to come back at the end of the piece. It didn't feel wrapped up or something ending on the white couple, but maybe that was on purpose.

- Becky Poole