912Oz by Lloyd Pace at NY's Sanctuary

Katrin Hilbe Directs a Timeless Moment

By: - Jul 09, 2015

912 Oz
By Lloyd Pace
Directed by Katrin Hilbe
Starring Rachel Halper, Adam Perabo, Denise Poirier, Cash Tilton.
Set Design, Sarah Edkins;  Costume Design Cathy Small; Lighting Design, Justin Partier;  Sound Design, Andy Evan Cohen; Technical Direction, Haejin Han; Stage Management, Anastasia Garnick. 
Produced by the Sanctuary: Playwrights Theatre at Theatre Lab
New York, New York
July 9, 2015

Playwrights have tackled 9/11, trying to grasp its impact, create before and after scenarios, and imagine the leadup, but none has taken Lloyd Pace's perspective: inside the hearts and minds of a successful power couple who were hit hard.

This love story must incorporate infidelity:  both husband and wife had dalliances with a young man and woman who did not survive.  Ruth and Peter enter on their bed, which is at a 90 degree angle to the floor.  They are pushing it as they walk in an endless nightmare. 

We are not merely in post-traumatic stress, but regret, responsibility, and live what ifs.  Fidel and Infidel merge.

Everyone post 9/11 moved to 912 Oz, an address for the impacted survivors.  Hanging on a clothesline are paper airplanes or origami cranes, the oldest bird on earth, a survivor and a symbol of good luck and joy.  At first they seem like a bad joke, but as the play unfolds, hope is slowly injected. 

Papers are piled high stage right, unopened since the terrible day.  Planes crashing into office towers may be the big city equivalent of a tornado.  Ruth's red shoes, the address of their home, a scarecrow-like hanging all suggest Oz.  We are invited to imagine a rainbow and its end.  In addition to Frank Baum, Faulkner's and Shakespeare's phrases are lofted, often in bits and pieces, as the characters struggle to remember and understand.  Often quotes are darkly funny.

What if Peter had spent the day with the young stock broker he is bedding?   What if neither of them had gone to work on the September day?  Ruth imagines hiring her lover Joe to landscape her garden instead of going to work on 9/11.  She cannot excise the holes that are created at every turn on garden paths.  Were holes were made by falling bodies, jumping from the 100th floor down to the ground?

Hilbe holds a moment in time.  Deliberately confusing past and present, she is able to create intense anxiety in a post-apocalyptic landscape.  All the artists find moments of deep humor in the chaos of their thoughts.  Poirier and Tilton are live in black and white.  Halper and Perabo, the ghosts, are in Oz-color.  Even the subtle lighting effects by Justin Partier tone the set to create and match moods.  912 Oz is a moving tone poem about haunting.