Two men sit side by side in a dark, grungy room lit only by a dim overhead bulb and light from the street filtered through dirty blinds, each wearing smeared clown make-up. One, holding an imposing stack of sheets of white paper, which he glances at from time to time, asks the other a series of questions, seemingly unrelated to each other or to anything else, not always pausing to hear the answer. The other answers, sometimes thoughtfully and at length, at other times curtly and sometimes only after long hesitation. After a time, they switch roles and the interrogation continues.
The audience, limited to about 30, in uncomfortable folding chairs and a few on the floor, shifts uneasily in their seats, not sure whether to laugh in uproarious amusement or groan with frustration at the meaninglessness and endlessness of the charade they are witnessing. Of course, they are free to go at any time – but know that if they choose to return, they will wait in line, as long as it takes until others have gotten up and left, vacating their seats.
Quizoola sounds more interesting than it actually was. I found myself feeling a growing sense of angst, listening to the questions as they were delivered in a tedious monotone, and to the answers, as often as not given with what seemed like unjustified sincerity. I found myself wondering whether the performers were actually performing, or just being themselves, telling the truth in response to the questions they were posed. There were no consequences for being sincere or not, for telling the truth or lying. Either way, the other simply continued his meandering line of questioning, alternating from questions like “what’s your favorite color?” to “Do you believe in democracy?” As became more and more apparent, the interrogation served no purpose beyond itself – that is, it was proceeding toward no resolution other than an arbitrary time at which it had been pre-determined to end.
As a performance, it violated virtually all the rules that normally apply. While a part of me wanted to think it was brilliant, another part deemed it to be profoundly uninspired.
- Seth Needler