By Ben Maddow and Paul Zimet
Direction: Paul Zimet
Sets: Jun Maeda
Lights: Alien Edetman
Costumes: Timothy Buckley
Masks and Projections: Kate Schmidt
1983: P.A.N.D. Caravan (Albany, Syracuse, NY)
1981: La MaMa(NYC)
As an outstanding descendent of the Open Theater, the Talking Band uses variations of that seminal company’s performance techniques to tell its own dramatic stories, which, in the case of the group’s latest work, “Soft Targets” can express a social urgency and moral courage. “Soft Targets,” at the La MaMa Annex through March 29, has as its nucleus a play by Ben Maddow about the harmful effects of nuclear energy. The title refers to the Pentagon’s term for people unprotected against nuclear attack.
In cooperation with Mr. Maddow, [The Talking Band has] gone a long way toward synthesizing the traditional and the experimental. In their hands, “Soft Targets” becomes an arresting work of political theater.
Repeatedly, the various worlds converge until it is not always clear that is being imagined and what is actually happening in the life of the play’s heroine. The most striking image comes penultimately, as the entire cast is cast in a tableau off everyday activities—eating, jogging, and talking. With a lightning flash, everyone is frozen by a nuclear explosion. The people disappear and their silhouettes remain as an indelible imprint of man’s potential for self-destructiveness.