(Charles Isherwood's article appeared in the New York Times, 1/14.)


Detailed Reflections, Verbal and Visual


The soapbox is fully present, in the form of a couple of nondescript wooden blocks, but the speakers are more like specters in “Ads,” a boundary-pushing curio from the theatrical auteur Richard Maxwell at Performance Space 122, a co-presentation of the Coil festival and the Under the Radar smorgasbord of forward-looking theater.

Mr. Maxwell, a downtown writer and director with a distinctive deadpan aesthetic, has been tinkering with the standard theatrical recipe throughout his career, creating plays that do not try to simulate “reality” by employing the usual naturalistic methods. He takes a leap further here, essentially removing the live performer from the equation in this odd, quiet and affecting work. We watch videotaped images of men and women who step up onto that soapbox — or rather appear to — to offer their musings on the state of culture, the state of their minds and any number of other subjects circling loosely around the notion of beliefs.

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(Richard Maxwell's work is represented in DUO!:  THE BEST SCENES FOR TWO FOR THE 21ST CENTURY from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)

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