Crows cawing, angels whizzing around on white scooters and an abundance of dry ice form the cornerstones of Way Station – a waiting room where souls patiently wait in limbo to discover whether they are being fast-tracked to heaven or if they are destined to plummet into the fiery pits of hell. An unnamed male lies comatose on an operating table on the brink of death; with only a faint pulse barely registering on the monitor, he arrives dazed and disorientated at Way Station. Greeted by his ephemeral late ex-wife, the nameless male is forced to confront his demons and justify the complexly tangled life he led on earth. Telescope literally and metaphorically shines a dazzlingly bright light that examines human experience in a tangibly immersive manner.
The plight of a man who is made to reflect on his misdemeanors and shortcomings in life and offered a chance of redemption is a familiar one. With a multitude of literary echoes that mimic Faustus, Scrooge and Dante’s predicaments, Telescope has a unshakeable sense of predictability that despite being well-executed, overshadows the work.
With a spattering of white seating scattered across the performance space, the audience can choose where they sit and this interactive work even allows you to be seated in the heart of the action. A tad exposing at first, but there is something undoubtably thrilling about being completely surrounded by a hazy onslaught of dry ice, which makes you feel like you too have been transported to a celestial waiting room.
Telescope forms part of the Buta Festival, a celebration of art from Azerbaijan. Aside from a few infrequent cultural references, very little firmly roots the play in Azerbaijan. The performances are strong and make for an entertaining evening, but it lacked that indescribable je ne sais quoi to make it memorable. It was predictable and in many ways unremarkable.
Telescope played as part of the Buta Festival at TESTBED1. Fore more information, see the TESTBED1 website.