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Review: 'The Flatiron Hex'

by Photo of Paul Hansen

The puppet-filled play is an inventive exploration of the brave new world of the Internet.

Review: 'The Flatiron Hex'

In this article…

James Godwin - Photo by Jim Moore

As I walked into the foyer of Dixon Place on the Lower East Side last week to see The Flatiron Hex, I could sense a note of excitement and expectancy in the audience which was assembling to see the new play. As the evening progressed it was apparent that the crowd's sense of expectation was not going to be disappointed. The play, told through a variety of puppets and video projections, is an imaginative and unpredictable examination of life in the big city in the Internet age.

The drama takes pace in a futuristic electronic version of New York City called NYORG. The plot follows Wylie Walker as he attempts to head off a storm that is threatening to engulf NYORG. Walker discovers that he is missing a critical component of the computer which would be used to head off the storm and he sets off on an odyssey through the city in an attempt to find the missing gadget. The search brings him into contact with a variety of bizarre characters including a rat queen, sinister disembodied heads projected onto video monitors and plotting politicians. In Wylie's encounters with a number of nefarious characters, Flatiron Hex creates something of the atmosphere of tongue-in-cheek film noir.

Much of the success of the evening depends on the vocal talents of James Godwin, the one man performer and puppeteer of the evening. His ability to manipulate his voice to effectively portray a large variety of roles reminded me of the talent of Mel Blanc, the actor who voiced Bugs Bunny and many of the characters in the old Warner Brothers cartoons. Godwin has an impressive artistic background having worked with (among others) Julie Taymor, Saturday Night Live, and David Bowie.

The story is told primarily through the use of a large number of puppets (both three-dimensional and shadow). Tim Lagasse also created some colorful video projections, and the sound design of Tom Burnett (who also directed) enhances the noirish aspect of the show. Burnett also co-wrote the play with puppet meister Godwin.

With a running time of about 90 minutes, the play is perhaps a bit too long to sustain its premises, and there were one or two points towards the end of the show where I thought that the drama might have more effectively closed. But there is no question that The Flatiron Hex is very imaginative and delightfully complex, something of a psychedelic journey into the brave new world of the computer age. Some of Hex's imagery and its depictions of battles which occur within computer systems reminded me of the Walt Disney film Tron.

Dixon Place is also an interesting performance space. The organization's mission statement states that it stresses experimentation, and such cutting edge performers as John Leguizamo and The Blue Man Group have developed their work there.

The Flatiron Hex has a relatively brief run of six performances. Its last two performances are this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM. Located in the ever-vibrant Lower East Side, Dixon Place's address is 161A Chrystie St.

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