June 1-10, 2012
Incubator Arts, NYC
Written and performed by Theresa Buchheister and Sarah Graalman
Directed and produced by Buran Theatre & Title:Point Productions
Designed by Nicholas Kostner
We put ourselves on each and every day, like an outfit. Whether we realize it or not, whether it is conscious or not, we wear our identities like a face full of makeup—our genders are painted, applied, and performed. Even for the most unambiguously gendered folk—those of us who conform to the standard male/female binary and display our gendered selves in correlation to our sexed bodies—life as a man or a woman is in many ways an act, a learned performance, donned and perfected since birth.
What better forum is there to explore, uncover, share, and reveal the unconscious performative nature of our daily selves than that of a theatrical performance—what better space and time within which to play and play with gender than a play? Indeed, the practice of cross-dressing and gender-bending onstage is an age-old and time-honored tradition predating Shakespeare. We put gender on like a costume, we can take it off like a costume, and we can mix and match it like a costume, too.
In an utterly bizarre and playful fashion, Theresa Buchheister and Sarah Graalman don and destroy gender, identity, and themselves in their current theatrical endeavor, DESTRUCTO SNACK, USA—written and performed by Buchheister and Graalman, produced and directed in collaboration between Title:Point Productions and Buran Theatre. Relentlessly hilarious (the packed audience was laughing the entire hour) and never preachy or didactic, DESTRUCTO SNACK, USA opens up a magical space within which desires and fantasies—possibly forbidden—are allowed to spill across the stage in all their messiness and confusion.
Buchheister and Graalman exhibit an impressive range as performers, seamlessly transitioning between disparate modes of acting; from slapstick, to storytelling, to drama, to intimate moments engaging the audience in displays of extreme honesty and vulnerability, this pair is consistently captivating and adept. Theresa Buchheister gives one of my favorite performances of masculinity to date—natural, convincing, sexy, and fascinatingly diagnostic. The two lead us through a wacky funhouse of the mind, filled with the many pleasures and pains of embodied human experience.
Indeed, viewing the play is sort of like being inside the unconscious mind, inhabiting the space where our fantasies, desires, and impulses are in heated conversation with our gender roles, self-image, and the situations we find ourselves in. The formlessness of the play’s structure heightens this sensation—vignette gives way to song, gives way to montage, gives way to sudden-completely-unexpected-physical-gag, gives way to vignette…Fractured, antic, delightfully startling and unpredictable, DESTRUCTO SNACK, USA runs amok like our too-oft chattering minds. Moments are at once horrifying and hilariou — choice instances of brilliance that simultaneously shock and delight. It’s a true pleasure to partake in, completely relatable, and an honest experiment in taking ourselves apart, reshuffling the pieces, and playfully putting them together again.