BWW Review: The Doomsday Clock is Ticking. Can Our Personal UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES Save the World?

BWW Review: The Doomsday Clock is Ticking. Can Our Personal UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES Save the World?

An unexploded ordnance, or UXO, is an explosive weapon that didn't go off when it was deployed but still could. UXOs are buried all over the world, including thousands in Germany left over from WWII.

UXOs are failed weapons of war. But could they also be solutions to our greatest problems?

That's the question that UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES, a genre-defying, thought-provoking piece by Split Britches (i.e., performance duo Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw) seeks to answer. This Dr. Strangelove-inspired show, now running at Artists Rep as part of PICA's Time-Based Art (TBA) Festival, examines how our personal UXOs -- e.g., buried desires, abandoned dreams -- might provide us with new ways of approaching the things that keep us up at night. It may sound a little out there, but difficult problems require creative solutions.

If we're going to use our UXOs to solve our problems, we first have to decide what problem to solve. And who better to ask than the audience members who have arguably seen the most problems in their lifetimes -- the oldest people in the room.

In the show, after an introduction in which we met the two main characters, the President (Lois Weaver) and the General (Peggy Shaw), learned about UXOs, and set our cell phones alarms for 59 minutes (the Doomsday Clock), Weaver lured 10 unsuspecting septua- and octogenarians to the stage using the cleverest method I've ever seen to serve as the "council of elders." To identify the problem to solve, she asked the council what keeps them up at night. All of the answers had something to do with our current political situation.

The rest of the performance consisted of a guided discussion about politics, fear, and whether our buried hopes and desires can help us out of the predicament we're in. The discussion was punctuated by interjections from the General, as well as by music and multimedia projections. After 59 minutes, the cell phone alarms went off and the show was over. Almost -- I think the alarms started earlier than expected the night I went. Also earlier than I wanted.

UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES asks a lot of questions. It doesn't answer them, but what it does do is arguably more important: it starts a conversation. Even the members of the council, who've been on this Earth longer than the rest of us, seemed to think we're entering uncharted territory. Our old ways of thinking aren't going to get us through this. We're going to need a new approach, and that might require us to dig below the surface to see what's buried beneath.

UNEXPLODED ORDNANCES runs through September 12. TBA goes through the 16th. More info here.

Photo credit: Matt Delbridge

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