Review: “For Fear the Glass May Shatter”
The Fusebox Festival is nearly upon us, and ‘tis the season for theatrical experimentation.
The Vortex Theater’s contribution to the annual hybrid art festival, “For Fear The Glass May Shatter,” playing through April 21comes in the form of a multi-media chamber opera that follows 40 years in the life of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli (Mick D’Arcy) as he interacts with the likes of Albert Einstein (Mindy Rast-Keenan), Neils Bohr (Eric Hungate), and Carl Jung (Matthew Patterson).
A scientist who was also the anonymous dreamer in Jung’s “Psychology and Alchemy,” Pauli seems a strange choice in subject matter for an opera, and the production doesn’t necessarily make the case for its own relevance.
Composed by computer engineer and artist David DeMaris, the music in the show is described in the promotional materials as “neuro-physics dream music built from oscillating fields and statistical mechanics.” DeMaris created and performed the music using computer software.
As you might guess, this leads to sounds that are interesting, if not generally what one might consider traditionally beautiful. “This Glass Will Last Longer Than Me” is the only song that stands out as memorable or particularly enjoyable.
That being said, the production features some talented vocalists. Chelsea Manaserri could make a song about anything sound amazing, so her too infrequent appearances in the production will make you sit up and pay attention.
Even with the thorough, scene-by-scene synopsis included in the program (detailing all 23 scenes of the two and a half hour show), the storyline is convoluted at best. The narrative features a number of scientific debates that would likely prove difficult to follow even in spoken dialogue, let alone in operatic form.
While the Vortex’s commitment to the collaborative creative process is admirable, this show is trying to do a whole lot. Covering nearly four decades of history and featuring more than half a dozen major historic and scientific figures, it seems like a case of not only too many cooks in the kitchen, but too many spices in the stew: On top of songs about the functions of electrons, there are dream sequences, discourses on Jungian psychotherapy, and a not-very-well-developed overlay of the Faust myth.
“For Fear the Glass May Shatter” continues through April 20. www.vortexrep.org