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Then Silence

A cool youthful cast of three swaggers through this interminable, pretentious dystopian fantasia that’s frantically staged and doesn’t add up to much.

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Kwasi Osei, Christiane Julie and Morten Holst in a scene from “Then Silence” (Photo credit: Kait Ebinger)

Kwasi Osei, Christiane Julie Seidel and Morten Holst in a scene from “Then Silence” (Photo credit: Kait Ebinger)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Arne Lygre is an award-winning Norwegian author and internationally produced playwright.  It’s possible that his interminable, pretentious dystopian fantasia Then Silence is more profound in Norwegian. It isn’t in May-Brit Akerholt’s English translation that was written for this U.S. premiere.

The foreground of the black-walled stage is adorned with a series of red pipes and there’s a pool table.  Two male and one female actor soon appear and engage in chitchat, dancing and playing pool.  The characters are perhaps metaphorically named “Brother,” “One” and “Another.”

What follows is a series of disjointed short comic and dramatic scenes totaling 80 minutes that are an arch mishmosh of the styles of Pinter, Brecht and Richard Foreman without buzzers.  The sequences are however punctuated by sharp bursts of light and blunt sounds.

There’s a cascade of military interrogations, implied torture, romantic interludes, sex talk, political sloganeering, vague reminiscences, and other semi-comprehensible digressions that fill the time and that by its conclusion don’t add up to much.  Initially there is a modest sense of interest in attempting to discern the events and characters depicted, but that soon evaporates and is replaced by numbness.

Kwasi Osei and Christiane Julie Seidel in a scene from “Then Silence” (Photo credit: Kait Ebinger)

Kwasi Osei and Christiane Julie Seidel in a scene from “Then Silence” (Photo credit: Kait Ebinger)

The cool and talented youthful cast of Morten Holst, Christiane Julie Seidel and Kwasi Osei swaggers through all of this with flair and focus.

Director Sarah Cameron Sunde is an accomplished interdisciplinary artist and that is evident from her full throttle staging.  It’s a hyperbolic spectacle of amped-up sound, lighting, tableaus, choreographed movement, dance and precise stage pictures.  The performances of the actors are suitably emphatic.  Ms. Sunde has taken this problematic material and nobly realized it with theatrical flashiness.

Technically the production is quite adept.  Lauren Helpern artful industrial set design well serves its purpose.  Derek Van Heel’s lighting design strikingly illuminates the actors, stage and actions with its use of shadows and bright points.  The periodically eerie and varying level of Brenda Bauer’s sound design is appropriately moody.  Different colored jeans, pullover sweaters and hooded sweatshirts are the main elements of Joseph S. Blaha’s vibrant contemporary costume design.

Then Silence is a presentation of the Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC) that was found in 2009.  It showcases the efforts of contemporary Scandinavian playwrights and theater artists through new plays and fresh takes on the classics.  They have given this minor, insubstantial and unsatisfying work a fine production.

Then Silence (through June 19, 2016)

The Scandinavian American Theater Company

The Lion Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.satcnyc.org

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

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Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (561 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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