Living in DC means opportunities to explore and experience new or unexpected things. 410[GONE] by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and directed by Gregory King Strasser at the Rorschach Theatre was an unexpected delight. I attended with a friend and neither of us read about the play before attending. We vaguely knew the play involved an arcade dance game and that 410[GONE] is also a computer code error that stands for “target not found at original source location.” The production provides much more: You start your evening with an opportunity to play “Dance Dance Revolution” before entering the Lab Theatre and being greeted by the Ox-Headed God.
The audience is close to the stage and video screens. This intimate experience makes it easy to see the characters, Seventeen and Twenty-One, confront issues of love, loss, and national/cultural identity. Seventeen and Twenty-One are brother and sister of Chinese-American heritage, straddling worlds of Chinese tradition, growing up in another cultural environment with fast food and internalized stereotypes.
“Where do we go when we die?” is a question Seventeen is trying to understand after the loss of her brother. Searching in the Land of the Dead, she finds Twenty-One along with the Goddess of Mercy and the Monkey King. How and when he transmigrates after his suicide, how they and the arcade game assist in this transmigration, and how his sister will recover are questions best left to the actors to answer in the play. The Ox-Head serves a Soup of Forgetting but, as it turns out, I have not forgotten this fantasy adventure.
This was my first time attending a play Rorschach Theatre but it will not be my last. The only disappointment in the production was the sparse audience. You still have time to see this production at the Atlas Theatre until April 15. Tickets can be purchased online (www.rorschachtheatre.com) by phone (202-399-7993) or at the theatre box office on H Street. The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission.
If You Go
WHAT: 410 [GONE] by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
WHERE: Rorschach Theatre, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lab II Theatre
WHEN: Through Sunday, April 15
HOW: For tickets, visit www.rorschachtheatre.com or call 202-399-7993. You may also purchase tickets at the box office.
WHY: Go see a fun, different story and support local theater!