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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Colorful World

I got to see Colorful World on its closing night. While this posting won't help the Nosedive Crew in terms of ticket sales (buy a ticket...oh...wait...) I wanted to take a second to say how much I enjoyed it, how well put-together it was, and that the acting was phenomenal.

James Comtois certainly wears his source material on his sleeve in this production, being Watchmen and a lot of the Dark Knight Returns stuff. But he diverges in a few key ways that makes the material his very own, and I truly found those departures rewarding.

The first was that Comtois removes the idea of flight entirely from the superhero genre. His characters, even the most powerful ones, are earthbound at their core, in more ways that one. With his main super-powered character Overman, Comtois blends Superman and Dr. Manhattan. But in the end, Overman is entirely new... a character who loses touch with his humanity because of actual experiences, not because he has mastery over all atomic structures (like Dr. Manhattan) or because he's essentially alien (like Superman.) He has telekinetic powers, he's nearly impervious to pain, he's an entirely new kind of human being. But he's also a son of a cop, someone who never wanted to go into law enforcement, who finds himself to pure embodiment of tyrannical law through power. And because he cannot fly, he never gets the bird's eye view that Superman or Dr. Manhattan are afforded. When he escapes, he escapes to a jungle. He can be found. He is not invisible. He is never freed entirely from being human.

Which is what makes Comtois solution to this all the more unique: he shows the importance of finding kinship. That being alone, lonely, or singular is essentially a dehumanizing experience, and the moment Overman meets his match, his response isn't the sort you'd see in the movies... he finds himself suddenly humanized.

It's the new place Comtois takes this material. Certainly there's a great deal in Colorful World that is said in its entirety in Watchmen or elsewhere. But this particular take on the material, that kinship is a humanizing force, is the sort of healing statement that makes this material not a product of 1980s nuclear fear (as is Watchmen) but a product of the current era. That in order to be citizens of the world, no matter how powerful we are, we need to see peers in the world, not challengers to our power.

If Overman represents, in many ways, the United States... a new and young nation with power far beyond its ability to maturely handle... then Overman enacts the very odd misanthropic fantasies that the US does. Better to wipe out what we don't understand, or wipe out what challenges us, than to seek understanding. Perhaps the best thing possible for the US, in this way, is the growth of other world powers, of peers, whose interests coincide with ours. That check our behavior, reflect on us, and make us a sibling, not an enforcer.

My congratulations to Nosedive and to James. Well done!

1 comment:

Jamespeak said...

Thank you so much, sir!