Agnosia by Ceaseless Fun

Short, beautiful, intimate piece dealing with loss.

Run: January 18 - February 7, 2018
Experienced: January 19, 2018
Address: Lincoln Heights, CA 90248
Price: $20
Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets
Audience Size: 1
Runtime: ~25 minutes
More Information: Ceaseless Fun site, Agnosia site, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter

Ceaseless Fun

Agnosia is the first of a three show thematically linked season by Ceaseless Fun dubbed “The Outline of a Human”. This is very intimate show for one participant at a time and you aren’t allowed to speak throughout the performance. I assumed this meant I would be a fly on the wall merely observing but that wasn’t the case.

There were moments where clear choices are offered to affect the scene. The mechanism was quite brilliant and something I had never seen before. Two actors both say the same thing (like asking for help) and reach out a hand. Whose hand you decide to take triggers a scene. It was intriguing enough for me to want to go again to make different choices but with a low capacity and short run I figured it would be better for someone else to experience it instead.

As with many great immersive pieces you aren’t quite sure where you fit into the narrative and your role changes as the show progresses. I started by walking up to a guy, played by Dakota Loesch, under a basketball hoop in the parking lot. Smoking a cigarette he greeted me and thanked me for coming. He started walking me to his apartment and the monologue was so natural and poetic. I felt I was really with a friend who was picking up the pieces of his life after suffering a loss.

He asked me to go inside without him and I saw a girl, played by Emily Yetter, sitting on the couch. The show explores different aspects of a couple dealing with loss. It does so with a beautifully poignant grace. Agnosia weaved in and out of realistic (helping my friend pack up his lost one’s shoes in a box) and surrealistic (a conversational dance between the living and the dead) with ease. This was a very fluid and polished production and I caught it the day after opening night I can only imagine how much better it got later in its run.

There are some very clever devices that seemed to play with the immersive theater format on a metalevel. In one moment I was told to lie down and shortly after another scene unfolded. Was I supposed to stay lying down throughout that scene? If so, for how long? I did for a bit and decided to sit up to get a better view. Could I have gotten up and gotten closer to the scene?

There was one, possibly two, false endings to the piece. The first is when you are intercepted, on your way out, by a guy (played by Scott Monahan) and you’re asked to help him find his cat. He’s wearing pajamas and flip flops and is obviously living in one of the nearby apartments. At one point he asks you to call out his cat’s name. I am pretty sure this is still part of the play and I’m not supposed to talk. Right when I’m about to call out his cat’s name he says “oh nevermind he’ll probably only respond to me,” solidifying the fact that this is, indeed, still part of the show.

The second false ending is when he leads you out to the courtyard. Since the area looked familiar enough and he’s in the hallway going back the way we came I assume that’s my cue that the show has ended and we would part ways. I hesitate, not quite sure, until he motions me to follow him. He leads me through more conversation about his lost cat and to a gate which clearly indicates the real ending. He pauses and makes an almost philosophical comment about how maybe everyone should, at one point in their life, lose a cat.

Given the context of the show this line ties the seemingly random cat search directly back to loss. We’re at the gate and he looks at me and asks if I want to push the button to open it or if he should. I let him push the button, the gate opens, and I’m back in the real world with a different outlook on life and death. What a difference 25 minutes makes.