BWW Reviews: PEOPLE WILL TALK ABOUT YOU SOMETIMES Doesn't Say What It Means
Every once in a while, I see a show that's challenging and even uncomfortable for me to review. This is one of them.
There's no doubt that People Will Talk About You Sometimes has good intentions, something I applaud and have no intention to criticize. The world premiere play from Poison Apple Initiative tries to tackle the topic of suicide and is inspired by 4.48 Psychosis, a performance art exploration of depression written by Sarah Kane whose clinical depression ended in suicide.
I'm not arguing that depression or suicide are poor subject matters. On the contrary, it's important to explore these topics in the theater. However, the play by Sarah Matusek seems terrified to actually confront the issues. While we're told that Izzy has attempted suicide, we neither hear or see her until the last ten minutes of the play, and even when we do she doesn't really talk about her depression.
Instead, the play is mostly comprised of odd, overly artistic vignettes involving Izzy's friends, and even they rarely discuss Izzy's depression or how her suicide is psychologically affecting them. Granted, it's incredibly accurate that the topic of depression would be the elephant in the room. There are few people that enjoy talking about it, but if fictional characters won't talk about depression, who will?
Thankfully Izzy's four pals are played by a quartet of exceptional performers. Suzanne Balling, one of Austin's most prolific actresses, is in top form as Izzy's nosy and sometimes pushy neighbor. Cassadie Petersen gives the role of Izzy's coworker a quirky personality. Zac Carr is heartbreaking as Izzy's concerned boyfriend, and Jon Cook manages to be fun and slightly off-putting as Izzy's brother who finds everything to be ridiculously funny.
But as mentioned, none of the characters really discuss the subject matter. Instead, they run around in circles, devour pomegranates while delivering monologues, and replay certain scenes and moments over and over. The antics occasionally come off as an attempt to disguise that there's not much else going on.
Unfortunately, People Will Talk About You Sometimes comes off as a missed opportunity. It could be a powerful statement on depression. It could be a tribute to victims of suicide, including Sarah Kane who inspired the work. It could say lots of different things, but despite all the talk, it doesn't manage to say much.
Running time: 75 minutes, no intermission
PEOPLE WILL TALK ABOUT YOU SOMETIMES continues at The Off Center at 2211 Hidalgo Rd, Austin 78702. Performances are Wednesday 2/5 - Saturday 2/8 at 8pm. Tickets are $15. For tickets and information, please visit www.poisonappleinitiative.com