Fun and intimate ‘Edward and Christine’ play live online
Individual interpretation by Tia Shearer Bassett of Kenneth Koch’s “poem game” Edward and Christine is a fun example of the creativity and intimacy of live theatre. Playing on Zoom from “a corner of my living room”, Bassett plays over 100 characters in over 50 locations in less than an hour and a half. As she explains before beginning, the scenes are not in chronological order, so the two main characters meet, fall in love, get married, and have a child all “out of sequence.” The hope, says Bassett, is to “let the words and images overwhelm you” without worrying too much about what they “mean”. In collaboration with Deb Sivigny and Anna Lathrop, Bassett translates this feeling to the screen.
Bassett uses his hands to represent the two main characters, one marked “E” for Edward, the other “C” for Christine. Other figures are also briefly his hands, with simple accessories to distinguish them, such as a shawl for a composer’s mop of hair, or an eyepatch draped around a thumb for a working-class man. Other figures, such as Egyptian gods, appear as sticks or paintings, as icons for Edward’s parents. Bassett herself becomes characters, donning a mustache, shawl, or tie around her forehead.
Bassett switches between characters quickly and effortlessly. Many of them are French or Italian, and all the different accents provide lots of laughs. Some scenes are heartfelt, however, such as when Christine, after a terrible medical emergency, wonders if she will be able to love her baby.
Bassett uses simple accessories to set the scene. A pizza cutter rolling on his arm, for example, becomes a cyclist in Holland. The toy soldiers in front of the “stage” are part of Edward’s squad. Maps on a clothesline behind her indicate where each scene takes place.
This performance is unusual to say the least. There are times when it is difficult to know exactly what is going on. But Bassett’s energy and humor keep the audience interested. One scene, for example, set in medieval England, features Saint Ursula trying to find 11,000 virgins to go on a crusade. Done in more modern language, it’s hilarious, though its connection to the rest of the play is unclear.
And Bassett is an inviting host. In emails before performances, she asks audiences to bring a stuffed animal, “your favorite drink” and Q-tips, all of which are used in the play. Right before the start, she sings and plays the ukulele. Edward and Christine is a showcase of versatile actors, showing what live theater is capable of, even on the internet. Don’t miss it.
Duration: Approximately 80 minutes, without intermission.
Edward and Christine is playing on Zoom on select dates through June 17, 2022. For more information and to purchase tickets (pay what you wish), visit Eventbrite. The show is recommended for adults 18 years and older.
Friday, May 27, 10:30 a.m. EDT
Saturday, May 28, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Friday, June 3, 10:30 a.m. EDT
Saturday, June 4, 2:00 p.m. EDT
Friday, June 10, 10:30 a.m. EDT
Friday, June 17, 10:30 a.m. EDT
In Their Own Words: ‘Edward and Christine’ Creators Share Their Unconventional Take on the Series (feature from co-creators Tia Shearer, Deb Sivigny and Anna Lathrop)