Informed Consent is not written or performed in a typical linear fashion. The plot is not what propels the play from beginning to end, but rather it is a couple of themes, the sense of searching for answers, and a troupe of voices suggesting stories which carry the audience through the hour and a half experience. There is a plot, and in fact there are a couple interwoven storylines that reveal themselves, but watching this play is much more of an immersion experience.
To pull it off, the production team responsible for lights, set, props, costumes and sound have had requests from the director that are perhaps more esoteric than usual. There is a lot of mood setting and suggestions of things rather than representational or literal effects. At one tech rehearsal I went to as a cohort, the production team and cast spent almost 30 minutes working out lights and staging for a brief monologue by the character Gillian. First time through, it wasn't right. I agreed. I was not really focused on her statements, even though none of the other actors were speaking or moving. She looked emotionally involved but it didn't really feel like a very emotional moment. Even so, I was surprised that it needed to be fixed. I figured it was good enough. But no, settling for good enough is not what this theatre is about.
What did the Director ask the Lighting Designer for? "Make her feel small and alone."
How did the Lighting guy respond? "Right, right! Give me a minute."
Thank goodness a professional knew what to do with that!
Ten minutes later, they ran the scene again. Background lights dimmed, colors changed and softened around Gillian, the other actors were now in shadows. I was transported to a lonely place watching Gillian stand alone on a lecture stage, groping for words and understanding. Mission Accomplished.
It has been a full, fruitful and fascinating tech week for this play. Tonight I will watch the last Preview performance. Just yesterday they decided to do away with the intermission! I feel nervous, so I can only imagine how everyone working in it feels. No changes after this. Opening night is this Saturday night. Break a leg!