by Mary Hubert
As I waited with mildly tipsy anticipation for the start of 14/48: Kamikaze, I heard what sounded like a bad karaoke version of Bow Down Bitches. And lo and behold, I was almost right, as I turned and saw three ladies who were clearly NOT singers dressed in sexy lingerie and prancing into the center of the theater. They gave a very entertaining musical rendition of the chant before joining the band and continuing to sing in their endearing, mostly-on-pitch voices, until the first play came onstage, an absurd rendition of a double dare game that culminated in some rather pointed commentary on Seattleites’ propensity for arbitrary judgment.
Ah, I thought. This is 14/48.
You might be asking what this strange phenomenon is. Here’s the pitch: 14 plays are written, directed, designed, and produced in 48 hours. Each director directs two plays, each actor is in two, and they perform 7 and 7 on Friday and Saturday night of the same weekend. Sound dangerous? Kamikaze was even more daring. This was the first 14/48 in the round, and to top that off, in this rendition the participants had to draw out of a hat what they would be doing. Designers were directing, directors were singing in the band, and actors were writing plays.
You might expect that this could lead to a cluster fuck, and it’s true that some of the work felt a bit less polished than usual, even for 14/48. But this was actually my favorite 14/48 of all I’ve attended so far. When a bunch of self-proclaimed playwrights, actors, and directors make art quick and dirty, the result is sometimes beautiful and other times feels indulgent. Strip these talented-as-hell individuals of their comfort zones, however, and the result is all of the entertainment with none of the pretension.
Most of the plays were hilarious. A film noir with a hefty twist was my favorite, with a perfect cigarette-wasting bit that was both hilarious and horrifying. Two dancing competitions both provided some laughs, and others, including an elementary school play-pretend, combined funny with profound in 10 minutes. True, some of the plays weren’t the best. True, some of the acting was a bit weak, and the design looked a bit makeshift. But it was these elements that made this round of 14/48 all the more entrancing: it reminded me of college, when everyone would pitch in regardless of what their specialty was to make some art.
I usually try to add a critique into my articles. But to be honest, this event is so much of its own animal, so wacky and wonderful, that I don’t really have one. My only hope is that more than the theater nerds of Seattle start attending this event. It’s a gem.
The Bottom Line: Though 14/48s can be rather hit or miss, I had an absolute blast at Kamikaze. This brave, funny, crazy work deserves a shout-out, and I for one will be cheering on Young Ones and Old Guns at the Cornish Playhouse in a few months. Y’all should too.
Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company, the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.
Featured photo is courtesy of Omar Willey