Theater

Love on the Download in Ochre House's Sci-Fi Flower in the Machine

Ochre House's latest oddity is a new light sci-fi drama written and directed by company member Kevin Grammer. Flower in the Machine takes its time — about an hour too much, frankly — to show what happens when romance withers in a world overrun by technology.

Elizabeth Evans plays Girl, attended in her morning ablutions by a pair of black-suited robots (Ben Bryant, Erin Singleton) who dress her, brush her teeth and hair and get her out the door to her stultifying job moving data inside a bland corporate machine. Next to her at work stands Boy (Trent Stephenson), a sullen, lanky blond, and his uncle (Brian Witkowicz), an inebriated burnout case.

To a score of ambient, funereal organ music played live by Trey Pendergrass, Flower, in the preview performance, slowly tries to blossom into a sweet little romcom set in the dystopian future. The robots begin to malfunction, which jolts Boy and Girl into realizing they're sleepwalking through life. "I'm sick and tired of all the machines!" shouts Girl.

A boss-lady (Carla Parker) revisits an old affair with the drunk guy. And suddenly, as often happens in Ochre House shows, a dance number breaks out, with everybody wearing yellow hats and bow ties, forming a kick line and then oozing back behind the revolving scenery (nice indoor/outdoor effect by set painter Isaac Davies) to resume the gray monotony of everyday rituals.

The first hour of Flower builds with a pleasing, dreamlike rhythm. But the laconic Stephenson acts as if his batteries are draining with every line he utters. By the second hour the show feels like someone has pushed "rewind" on the machine.

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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner