David Ortolano “The Man Who Sold the World”
Philip Bombara • August 25, 2017 • 2017 Boulder International Fringe Festival •
“What is truth? What is fact? Do you know where we are?” David Ortolano postulates to the crowd at the Wesley Theater. Do we decide? Is there inherent truth or merely mostly agreed upon statements that can’t be “proven” wrong. What is the burden of proof? “Did I live up to your expectations? I feel like you’re expecting something from me,” David continues.
The fourth wall is never even erected as the audience is pointedly asked questions before they are completely certain the performance has begun. Perhaps in doing so one truth has been uncovered and simultaneously shattered in the same breath, as most audiences do maintain a certain set of expectations when it comes to a live performance. As the light is shone on those expectations, it is immediately apparent that repeated past experiences are no reason to assume something to be true, and this will not be a performance where the audience can passively observe safely behind the fourth wall. As the crowd offers up their opinions, and David retorts, he is interrupted… by himself. A pre-recorded voiceover now brings the audience inside the inner monologue of the performer, or the character, as it is tough to pinpoint where the character ends and the man begins. Thereby adding another layer to the conundrum we are unified in feeling. We are lead through the same confusion and quagmire of expectation as David, or his character, or both.
A somewhat scripted stream of consciousness, the performance is cerebrally engaging and vexing as we are presented with a slightly neurotic character unable to make heads or tails of reality. Pointing to familiar memories or places, yet unable to discern if they are in fact comprised of his own firsthand experiences, or the mere illusions and dreams of suicide victim on his way to crossing over.
Here stands before us a man lost in a familiar world that he has awoken to find exactly the same, yet simultaneously unrecognizable. Tormented by his uncertainty of what is real, what is true, what is happening and where he fits into the fabric of the immense and complex cosmic tapestry draped over the mind’s eye. All the while grappling with the notion that deceit, suffering and dishonestly were created merely out of man’s attempt to entertain one another. Though provoking and unique, David Ortolano’s “The Man Who Sold the World” provides a theater experience that when contemplated, offers far more than 57 minutes of entertainment. “I might not be able to fulfill your expectations…” David says, but perhaps that is for the best.
You can experience “The Man Who Sold the World” at the Wesley Theater