Writers: Tom Burnett & James Godwin
Director: Tom Burnett
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
In a post-climate change New York, or more appropriately, a parallel and dark comic city called NYORG [pronounced NYE-org], contract shaman Wylie Walker (played live as well as in puppet form by James Godwin), is tasked with managing the city’s anti-storm security system through a combination of technology and ritual. Blending together the old and the new, comic books and noir, and a good dose of tongue-in-cheek silliness, The Flatiron Hex is a lighthearted exploration of several potentially heavy topics.
Seemingly inspired by the uptick in severe and far-reaching hurricanes, writers Godwin and Tom Burnett create a universe subsumed in the occult and absurdity, which is constantly fighting against the forces of nature. While this makes for an entertaining production, especially when it comes to watching Godwin manage the entire performance as both a live actor and a puppeteer, it seems confused as to what message or questions the audience is meant to take away, if anything at all. The use of old technology and old medicine joins with new technology and new religious ritual while running up against dark surrealist dreamscapes and a character called The Tongue who might only exist in its chosen form because Godwin already had the voice in his repertoire. That’s just speculation, of course.
Parents may feel comfortable bringing their children to see this as a way to create an entrance point for discussing any number of uncomfortable topics, but with a fair amount of swearing and fake blood, plus one bizarre sex scene, they may want to keep pre-pubescent children away from the theatre.
The Flatiron Hex is an enjoyable piece of work that draws inspiration from comic books, film noir, religious ritual, and Christopher Walken. It touches on issues that affect us all without the discomfort of working in naturalism or a recognizable universe. Unfortunately, without employing that discomfort to parallel contemporary life, it may not arouse the conversations and question-raising among its viewers that this reviewer assumes is part of the intention.
Runs until 30 September 2017