Far Away

by Johanna Droubay
Willamette Week, Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Elaborate visual effects and unnatural performances distract from the meaning of Caryl Churchill’s one-hour play about war, gore and hat-making. Though Churchill’s writing is meant to be challenging and ambiguous, Liminal’s staging of Far Away would lead one to believe she is an absurdist without plot or point. In fact, Far Away has several easily comprehensible threads and plot points: In Act I, young Joan (the precociously talented Hallie Blashfield) seeks an explanation for her uncle’s violent behavior; in Act II, grown-up Joan (Madeleine Sanford) makes a competitve sport of crafting hats to humiliate prisoners on death row; and finally, in Act III, a war erupts in which animals and rivers take sides. Liminal’s production, however, obscures everything with messy, screensaverlike video projections, unnatural inflections and heavily stylized movement. Worse still, disturbing video images early in Act I preclude any kind of gradual progression from eerie to horrible.