Don’t get me wrong, Dallas Theater Center has another amazing show on its hands. Always looking to push the envelope and be creative in new ways DTC does not disappoint here. The audience is held in the lobby until Showtime when an inaudible announcement is played and we are directed to listen to Charlie Browns teacher offer some sort of instruction or insight. I and no one around me had any idea what was being said.
Khris Davis, Hassan El-Amin, Zack Weinstein - Photo by Karen Almond
The audience is admitted by section and seating is general admission. Climbing the stairs you begin to hear the loud beat of drums, the classing of cymbals, the grunts and cries of men playing football. Once in the theater you walk passed a football field where the University of Texas Football Team and Band are practicing. The incredibly versatile Wyly has literally flipped its traditional set up with a small football field where seats normally reside and 308 seats in bleacher fashion placed where the stage traditionally sits.
Joel Ferrell, Alex Stoll, with cast - Photo by Karen Almond
The backdrop of a scoreboard divides the play into four equal quarters and limits the time of the one act play to fully develop the all the characters and their stories. The first fifteen minutes on the clock involves the audience finding their seats and then watching the practice as the clock ticks down.
Zack Weinstein plays Mike. A wheelchair bound former player who ended up in the chair after his decision to protect a team mate from tackle on the field. The story is told through a contentious series of conversations with his former self, the man he was before his injury. Alex Stoll plays the younger Mike with great vigor and I found his portrayal of the struggle to reclaim his place in his current self incredibly engulfing.
Colossal takes on many current hot button issues in a very short time; Gay players (Michael Sam), Head injuries in football (Chris Borland) and the tensions created when children do not grow into the person their parents hoped (maybe some reading this now).
Zack Weinstein, Steven Michael Walters, with cast - Photo by Karen Almond
The choreography is the real star of the show. Using a remote control to advance and reverse the moments of his injury on the field is masterfully played out by incredibly talented dancers. The unbelievable choreography of the football plays intertwined with dance is as powerful as the story itself.
While bold in theory I cannot get passed one scene where Colossal really disappoints. We come to discover that Mike’s love for a team mate is so great as to put him in the chair in which he is likely to spend the rest of his life in. His love was so strong, so unconditional that he knowingly broke the rules of Football and lead with his head and not his feet to protect his love from injury resulting in his own.
At an away game we see the pair forego a visit to a strip club with the team to spend their first night together. There is all the nervousness and tension you would expect from a pair of young men experiencing a man and each other for the first time. But the culmination of all of this build up is a hug. I do not need a “How to Get Away with Murder” gay love scene, those are a bit much even for me. However to think that the appropriate expression of a love between these two is a hug is at best disappointing. Remember this is a love is so strong that one puts himself in a wheelchair protecting the other. I would have liked to have seen a passionate kiss, the one we experience that first time you kiss a new love. Even a blackout would have better conveyed the love, we could have completed the scene in our minds and not with the image of a hug as passionate as the ones I give loved ones on holidays.
That said, Colossal is good theater and well worth the price of admission. Dallas Theater Center and Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty never disappoint with their ingenuity and fresh perspective on the experience of theater. Colossal plays through May 3rd, Tickets are $18-$90 and available at dallastheatercenter.org
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