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SICK: A CHAMBER OF HORRORS
Sarah B. Hood
Aptly named, this “chamber of horrors” challenged the audience on all fronts. Action began in the antechamber, where audience members could choose to enter the (closed) theatre door, or wait to be rudely sent in. A white-gowned woman proffered a noxious-looking drink at the door. Some chairs were available; many audience members climbed scaffolds to perch watching the action - taking place all over the room – from above.
Some who sat in chairs were forced to move from them during the performance (which ran two hours, with no intermission). Once the show was underway actors nailed the exits shut.
Incorporating DNA’s last show, The Panel, actors played members of a panel discussing AIDS, with opportunities for audience involvement. The second section took the form of a bingo game with AIDS-related medical disorders instead of chips.
Although daring in its conception and presentation, Sick struck me as self-indulgent and ultimately less successful than The Panel. Its excesses may be taken as a metaphor for AIDS itself; yet the subject - which is certainly a grim and terrifying one - was played for so much melodrama that it seemed out of scale with the many other horrors and injustices of human life. The play’s sensationalism even made it seem somewhat disrespectful to people dealing with AIDS in fact rather than fiction.