Playwright: Stanislaw Lem & A. Rhodes
Company: COUNTER/weight Theatre Lab
Venue: Cottonwood Center for the Arts, David Lord Theater, 427 W. Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs CO.
Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes (includes 10 minute intermission)
Date of Performance: Sunday, April 3, 2016.
“The situation isn’t subject to how we generally think about morality.”
Sartorius, Act 1, Solaris.
“The situation” mentioned above is a grave one indeed. Things have gone horribly wrong on a manned space flight orbiting Solaris, and there seems to be no way to resolve the problems. Solaris creates a scenario that breaks down our understanding of morality and reality. We do not know how to act in the circumstances in Solaris.
This is a crackerjack script, smart, profound, and frustratingly inconclusive. The problems are complex: What or who is God? What is the difference, if any, between artificial intelligence and human intelligence? Can humans have meaningful relationships with an intelligence that is not human? How do we even know what is “real” and what is not?
The ultimate question in Solaris is whether an entity that can create an exact replica of a human is God. If our creator created us, could he or she create infinite copies of us? Solaris goes where few scripts would dare; defining God is arguably an impossible task.
Solaris asks the big questions, while refusing to give us easy answers.
The plot is neatly designed to raise these questions. The space craft is exploring Solaris from above when things go haywire. “Visitors” start appearing on the ship. Of course, that’s not possible, but after ruling out delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and hysteria, the crew accepts that the “visitors” are in some sense real, and in every sense familiar. Think of the one person in your life…a friend, a lover, a stranger, who would provoke your most deepest guilt. That’s your visitor, and he or she will come to see you in your room at night. That visitor will look like, talk like, and act exactly like that person from your past.
COUNTER/weight Theatre Lab quickly immerses us into this intense alternate universe. Solaris is a two hour reality check that forces the audience to question our most basic beliefs and relationships.
|Rachel Fey (Kris).|
The spartan set is functional, if low tech. This is not the flight deck from Star Trek, but it works just fine in the small space of the Cottonwood Center for the Arts theater. As the show starts, Kris (Rachel Fey) arrives to find the crew in a shambles, barely able to function. Neither Snow (a disoriented and disheveled Alexander Risk) nor Sartorius (Ethan Everhart) can describe what has gone wrong.
As Kris starts to slowly sort through the story, she gets her own visitor, her late husband Hari (Kevin Ashbey). Fey and Ashbey carry most of the dramatic load in Solaris, tenderly reigniting their lost love even though the Kris knows her new Hari is an elaborate illusion.
|Chelsea Boucher (Gibarian).|
Solaris is about big ideas. While the story starts slowly and drags a bit at the outset, it picks up steam as we learn the gravity of the situation. COUNTER/weight Theatre Lab demonstrates one doesn’t need special effects or gizmos to tell a profound story. Director Ethan Everhart puts the big ideas on the stage, hoping they will stand on their own merits. They do. Solaris is thoughtful, provocative theater.
This show is suitable for teens and up. There is ample free street parking at The Cottonwood Center for the Arts and in the lot across from the main entrance.
This show closes on April 17, 2016.
Photo Credit: COUNTER/weight Theatre Lab
Director: Ethan Everhart
Assistant Director/Board Operation: Colton Cobal
Scenic Design/Costumes/Props/Makeup: Chelsea Boucher & Felicia Kelly
Script Supervision: Parker Hicks
Kris: Rachel Fey
Snow: Alexander Risk
Gibarian: Chelsea Boucher
Sartorius: Ethan Everhart
The Visitor: Felicia Kelly
Hari: Kevin Ashbey