The opposite of Oklahoma?
See What I Wanna See
Just when you think Artistic Differences can’t possibly maintain their doubly high standard of difficult material and fantastic productions, along comes See What I Wanna See. Based on three short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (one of which is familiar to many as the source of Akira Kurosawa’s famous film Rashomon), this musical is concerned with perception in its broadest sense. The stories are complicated and appear unrelated, but gradually we see—as do the characters—exactly what we want to see.
The talented and experienced cast members (Maggie Hollinbeck, Joshua James, Martha Omiyo Kight, Martin Lehman and Scott Martin) take on multiple roles in the various tales, often appearing and disappearing quickly, thanks to an extremely simple but versatile set that includes a rotating platform. Noteworthy turns include Hollinbeck’s multifaceted portrayal of a wife (faithful? Unfaithful? We don’t really know) and Martin’s performance as an almost-manic priest struggling with his lost faith in the aftermath of a disaster.
On opening night, the orchestra—which shares the stage with the actors—had a tendency to overpower the vocals, a situation that will likely be quickly rectified.
True to Artistic Differences’ mission, See What I Wanna See is not your typical musical-theater fare. Don’t expect a happy-go-lucky musical experience with memorable, hummable show tunes. These are dark stories: death, destruction, rape, murder, hopelessness. Underlying all is the urge to make sense—preferably in a way that enforces our identity—of a senseless world.