I have been to many theater productions where I wished I could have voted on what I would see and what I wouldn’t see, allowing myself to somewhat change the channel on the live production in front of me. Luckily, The Collective Project’s reintroduction of The Theory of Everything: Solve for X at the Goat Farm Arts Center did exactly this.
The variety play originally took to the stage at 7 Stages in 2010. Due to its success the theater group decided to revive the show for brand new audiences at their newest theatrical abode, The Goat Farm. Like with the other productions that I have seen come out of The Collective Project’s brain, this show and the people behind it are very clearly still excited to create.
The title of the show seems very heavy handed, a pronunciation of all that there is and why, but what The Collective Project has done culminates into a surprise variety each night filled with goofy jokes, song and robotic strip teases. It all seems like fun and games but the few serious moments revive the audience into realizing that there is more to this show than just a good giggle.
On the night that I attended, I put in my votes for the three shows that peaked my interest the most: Seven Minutes in Heaven, Gone With The Wind in 5 Minutes: An Interpretive Dance, and Home Alone: Based on Some True Stories. Two out of three were chosen to be amongst the ten short plays to be shown that night. Unfortunately, me and only one other southern transplant were staying true to Scarlett O’Hara.
The ten plays chosen by the audience were: Loves Takes Guts, Has Jimmy’s Dad Ever Been to a Dave and Busters?, Seven Minutes in Heaven, Sexy Robot, Home Alone: Based on Some True Stories, Too Many Apples (A Film by Guy Ritchie), You There Boy in the Street, LoveTron 3000, Inevitable, and A Modern Western, Hold the Spaghetti. All of the plays in the selection of eighteen were written by Atlanta playwrights (Chris Alonso, Corey Bradberry, Greg Garrison, Sean Haley, Jireh Holder, Matthew Myers, Melissa Oulton, and Dylan Schettina) and thrown into the voter chosen grab bag each night.
The actors involved (Marie Barker, Josh Brook, Andrew Crigler, Greg Garrison, Sean Haley, Elizabeth Jarrett, Melissa Oulton, and Dylan Schettina) moved from role to role without a glitch in mere thirty seconds in between each short production. Like with all small theater groups, the actors are playing more roles than just the ones on the script. They seat people, move props and still conserve the energy to pull out time travelling teacher student love affairs, shoot outs over fruit, and even a little bit of murder.
The show is toted to “having something for everyone” and it seemed to live up to this claim. If something didn’t quite meet your standards or fit your tastes all you had to do was sit for a few minutes and endure before everything switched and a refreshing new plot, scene and set of characters was before you. Although each play brought something new to the table whether it was comedy, drama or a bit of a musical interlude, and I am all in the name of fun, but a few of the installments felt a bit too adolescent in their nature for the audience that was attending. Some of the content both comedic and dramatic could have used a bit of adult sprinkled in. Silliness is fine, but silliness on the brink of frivolity leaves me, as an audience member, yearning for more.
As a whole the show did what it wanted to do: shine a light on many local talents in one night and give the audience the say for what happens. It was impressive to see not only the actors prepared to deliver on moment’s notice but also the people behind the scenes. There is no way to rehearse a show that changes every night and demands attention, energy and a quick turnaround of emotions and characteristics. All in all, The Collective Project is still doing what they set out to do. They consistently bring original and unique work to the Atlanta art scene. The Theory of Everything: Solve for X was the final show of their season, check out their website for what is to come in the upcoming season, www.thecollectiveprojectinc.com.