by Emma Lee
Leonard Cohen wrote the following in his piece How To Speak Poetry: ‘Take the word butterfly. To use this word it is not necessary to make the voice weigh less than an ounce or equip it with small dusty wings….The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. There is the word and there is the butterfly. If you confuse these two items people have the right to laugh at you.” The creative team of Crashland would have done themselves a great service by reading these words and heeding their warning. The play, which is based on T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, promises to explore further the themes found in Eliot’s poem: global injustice, corruption of communication, infertility and the search for God. On paper, this is a great departure point that could lead to no end of moving theatrical experiences. However what is on the stage is far from what is on paper. An hour of actors trying to be the words instead of speaking the words is enough to undermine the most brilliant of scripts, and unfortunately Crashland is far from brilliant. It can be assumed going into something branding itself as Eliotesque that we are going to find a piece that is more poetry than dialogue, more emotional journey than narrative. What is needed for that to be a success is that the staging, acting, and words transport the audience to a place that conventional story telling cannot. Nothing even near the mark is present with Crashland. Sloppy movement, unclear relationship dynamics, the confusion of nudity and sexuality, and yelling (oh so much yelling) results in zero emotional transformation, and with no plot to hold onto, the play has crashed almost as soon as the lights have dimmed.