The premise for Flight Out of Time is a bit muddled. The Piccolo Spoleto playbook has a few lines about Cabaret Voltaire and the surrealist sketches that arose during WWI. But after watching Flight Out of Time, questions still linger. What really just happened? What do Tweets have to do with Dadaism? Although, hearing a series of Kanye West’s Tweets screamed in your face is definitely surreal.
The show follows Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, and Tristan Tzara in Zurich of 1916. Ball is searching for meaning in what he views as an empty world characterized by war and class strife. But the play — and Ball — take life when Tristan Tzara emerges on stage and confronts Ball with esoteric theories of Marxism and Nihilism. The small band forms a theatrical troop to confront their disgust of capitalist society and the bourgeoisies that run it. After pulling a random word from the dictionary, the group dubs themselves Dada. The singing of “Je Ne Regrette Rein” ensues, along with a series of eclectic performances, including a chant of Dadaism — which lasted for far too long — and a chase scene which devolved into a puppet show.
As the play end, it finally began to come together. An informal reenactment of the Russian Revolution with puppets causes Ball to realize the consequences of his anarchic and counter-culture dreams. The violence that often accompanies revolution and the Romanovs’ deaths shake Ball, and soon after the play, the troupe disbands.
At times the performances were convincing and even applaudable. Ball delivered a soliloquy on the theory of Dadaism, complete with wrought facial expressions, sweat, and some spit. Tzara added infinitely to the humor of the play with a dramatic, full-bodied delivery.
But the show ultimately failed to connect the frustration with society in the WWI-era to the present day as the actors intended. Besides the Tweets, and a quick reference to the power of OxyClean, there was little correlation between now and then. Overall, teh storyline was hard to follow, and some scenes, including the final rocket launch, were just bizarre.