|Michael Yates Crowley (as Tinky Holloway) in "Song of a Convalescent..."|
The title, in case you were wondering (as you no doubt were) refers to an extraordinarily long movement in a Beethoven string quarter which uses an ancient tonality known as the Lydian mode. It was written by him in response to his apparent recovery from illness (which proved to be illusory) and his gratitude to God. Heard at the beginning of the show and repeated at the end, it bookends the process that Crowley experienced in confronting his pain from suffering from a scourge that is very little understood even after centuries of research. While this might sound a bit too dry and scholarly a topic, its presentation is anything but. Crowley is a master of understating and Rau is as dry and droll as they come. Written by Crowley (who also provided some of his own original music) and Directed by Rau, it starts out as (intentionally) rather amateurish and disheveled, but swiftly becomes more focused on their treatment of a condition that has no treatment, a disease with neither known cause nor cure. The technical contributions are all suitably minimalist, from the Scenic Design by Sara Walsh to the Costume Design by Valérie Thérèse Bart, the Lighting Design by Derek Wright, the Sound and Video Design by Asa Wember and the Music Direction by Josiah Reibstein.
As the aforementioned drag queen, Tinky Holloway by name, puts it, “life is depressing, but at least I wrote a song about it”, and even more tellingly describes her art as open heart surgery. It's not a show for everyone, especially those who aren't fans of performance art in general; this show might even give them a headache. But if you're open to a novel approach to an unusual subject, you might well find yourself amused, bemused, and provoked to thought. Again in the immortal words of the irrepressible Tinky Holloway, may we “all have long and rational lives”.