Solid writing, acting elevates 'City'

Two lovers in 2011 A.D., Bastian (Tim Hahn ’06) and Renee (Hilary Lewis ’06), prepare to protect their unborn child, the prophesized savior of the human world. The only glitch is that Bastian has to train in an alternate dimension called Pastel City, where time has no measure. He has been trained by Renee’s dead father and took advice from various strange beings who spoke in riddles, as well as from a god who continued to change gender. The riddles, meant for Bastian, seemed to strike a chord with an audience that had presumably forgotten that “what smells like garlic breath, is often really flowers.”

A thousand years later, a young man (Garon Taylor-Tyree ’03E) and a hybrid woman (Laura Swearingen-Steadwell ’04), both part human and part machine, meet and join forces. They are then transported through time to different dimensions. These two, named Atom-Z and Serena, are running from the machine-driven world that is ruled by the evil eight-armed Octurians. In a series of “quakes,” they unite with the ‘elementals,’ the simplest possible life forms of another dimension, as they explore with their sarcastic, smoke-inhaling guide InPosse, played by Claudia Gunter ’05E.

As Renee and Bastian manipulate both the universe and time, things begin to fall apart. Somehow, the universe twists around, combining Renee and Bastian’s dimension with that of a magical world inhabited by strange beings called Dwelfs (a combination of elves and dwarves), elementals and gwips. As these seemingly peaceful creatures follow the prophecies of the beautiful Secretagogue (Taela Brooks ’06), they are terrorized by the powerfully evil Dark-Onus.

Through a twist of fate, the time periods that Renee, Bastian, Atom-Z and Serena each occupy combine with the dimension of the elementals. Renee’s prophetic baby is born at the same time as she and Bastian realize that they have just met their son as an adult-Atom-Z. The plot twists once more as the hybrid-woman Serena is revealed to be Renee’s long-dead mother. She has survived the Octurian occupation by becoming part machine.

Though the audience was often confused at the beginning, the storylines all came together by the conclusion, with some interesting and unexpected ironies. The play dealt with many ideas, hinting at the deadliness of our growing dependence on machines. Much of the philosophy explored in “Pastel City” was thought-provoking. It suggested that differences between human beings are better understood if we think of ourselves as aliens. However, the play never gets too serious. Even the provocative scenes between Bastian and God are lightened by witty dialogue.

The performances were stellar as well. Lewis was sarcastic and strong as Renee. Hahn was heroic yet vulnerable and adorably confused as Bastian. And Swearingen-Steadwell and DeLeon Wright ’05, who played worldly Serena and Elfin Eye Tea, effectively portrayed their characters as confident and compassionate role models for the younger generations. In addition, the costumes, eye-catching and magnificent, added much to the atmosphere.

Despite a confusing plot, everything came together quite satisfactorily. The characters were real and the audience’s hearts went out to them as they experienced very human struggles. We laughed, we cried and some of us came out thinking about the world a little bit differently.