What have we discovered from all of these darkish nights, and can something have modified now that the lights are approaching once more? These are the definitive questions of this odd second, as theater begins its piecemeal reopening. “Worlds Fair Inn,” a brand new play at Axis Theater Company, affords one deflating response: nothing.
At first, after all, a number of variations manifest. Like the temperature examine on the ticket taker’s desk or the spacing between the seats in Axis’s dim, subterranean house. But “Worlds Fair Inn,” a neo-Gothic frippery that runs a quick however by some means labored 50 minutes, might have performed at any time up to now twenty years since Axis opened its doorways.
Written and directed by Randy Sharp, the inventive director of Axis, the piece takes apparent inspiration from the exploits of the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who carried out his murders in a constructing colloquially often known as the World’s Fair Hotel. (Some of the victims had been attendees of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.) The program mentions that the present is equally indebted to the exploits of the atomic scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. That half doesn’t come by means of.
Sharp offers Holmes’s lurid story an absurdist spin. Three males, dressed like punk-rock variations of Buster Keaton, meet on a stage crowded with whiskey bottles. One of them, Frank (Brian Barnhart), pronounces a plan to construct a resort to accommodate honest attendees. The different two (George Demas and Jon McCormick) signal on as builders and accomplices. Eventually they lure a person and a girl (Edgar Oliver and Britt Genelin) to the check-in desk, murdering them after which mutilating and reanimating their corpses.
Despite its historic sources, the present offers little sense of time or place — or plot or character, for that matter. The dialogue bumbles, although there are a number of odd felicities, like Frank’s behavior of saying “fair” as “fire” and a lone, lame joke. “So you would do whatever I say even if it goes against your beliefs as a human being?” Frank asks his new colleagues. “I’m a contractor,” one says, by means of assent.
This play, like lots of Axis’s productions, principally serves as a pretext for David Zeffren’s tenebrous lighting and Paul Carbonara’s ominous sound design. Though the present issues inside areas, “Worlds Fair Inn” by no means gestures to how lengthy many people spent inside over the previous 12 months. And these of us who need a theater that believes in variety and fairness are more likely to discover the present’s seemingly all-white solid discouraging. While it seems like a miracle to be allowed sit down in a theater once more, program in hand and stay actors onstage, that marvel ebbs.
Still, what a deal with to spend somewhat time with Oliver. He is a fully sui generis actor who resembles nothing a lot as an Edgar Allan Poe brief story made flesh. (If it issues, I as soon as rode the B67 bus with him and his offstage method is equally, splendidly sepulchral.)
His character isn’t onstage for very lengthy, although the moments handed with him present their very own peculiar pleasure. Even as we hope that theater will return far more engaged and courageous and dynamic and various, how good to see an odd and acquainted face.
Worlds Fair Inn
Through June 19 on the Axis Theater, Manhattan; axiscompany.org.