It may just be the end of the world as we know it, but Paco V Put to Sleep really tries to answer the important questions in life, like where can I find some ice cream to eat?
Should you see it?
Paco V has been lifting all day. Ricky T has been serving ice cream all day. Dick has been hanging out with Jane. No one has gone shopping for groceries. No one has money to do so. The future seems bleak for our unlikely quartet, yet when the world starts to go to hell in a hand basket outside of Paco & Dick’s apartment we don’t necessarily want to know what’s happening, but ask the most pressing questions like, is it going to rain? Where can our heroes find a meal? Will Dick’s parent’s lawn chairs be ruined or stolen? Why did Paco fall asleep?
This comedy of sorts was written years ago by Martin Dockery (Wanderlust; The Bike Trip; The Surprise) and is by far one of the most bizarre scripts I have ever seen scripted. Everything is so awkwardly presented to the audience that it’s hard to tell if there is no chemistry between the cast members or it was written to be just as ridiculously wooden as it comes off.
This is a play that is about everything and nothing at the same time. It’s so simple in its stupidity that you start looking for hidden meanings and symbols. And maybe that was Dockery’s intention, to write something so ridiculous with no meaning that people would scour looking for a reason for its existence.
Yet I didn’t hate this play. I was entertained. I laughed at a handful of punchlines. I cringed at the awkward conversation. I will be forever haunted searching for a meaning for this play. It was intriguing enough that I have to tell people to go and see this play, because for whatever it is, whatever genre it ends up falling into, it’s just too damn weird to miss.
As Fringe 2014 got underway, the buzz was pretty clearly that Paco V: Put To Sleep was either a show you’d get or you wouldn’t. Fair enough. Absurdist theatre is easy not to get and has to be a style you’d appreciate. Was this where the “you’ll get it or you won’t” commentary was coming from, or was the fact that it was theatre of the absurd and some people “wouldn’t get it” was simply a shield against the fact that it didn’t deliver? It’s very easy to behind “you just didn’t get it” defence when there wasn’t anything to get.
Absurdist theatre tends to be set in a world where people generally don’t react the way people do in our reality. Where, in fact, reality doesn’t react the way we typically understand it to. There, Paco V succeeds, with a group of characters generally disconnected from everything happening around them and unmotivated to do anything as the world collapses around them — actually, perhaps not absurd so much as clinically depressed and in need of medication. Here, there was some good acting at least. All cast members had a moment or two to shine and Tim Oberholzer was stand-out.
But shouldn’t absurdist theatre clearly carve out it’s own internal consistency? Creating it’s own reality and in an odd way adding sensibility to the absurd? And shouldn’t absurdist theatre at least provide some commentary on the real world? Shouldn’t there be a point in the madness, or something to “get” before you can claim people didn’t get it.
In both these areas, Paco V didn’t get quite get there. It felt like it was trying to but by script, or by direction, it just didn’t feel like its internal reality came together or that it had any point hidden in its madness.
Or perhaps I just didn’t get it.
What did you think of Paco V Put to Sleep? Do you understand what any of it means? Join the discussion in the comments below!
For more information on Paco V Put to Sleep, including show times and how to get advance tickets, visit the show page on OttawaFringe.com: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/paco-p-put-to-sleep/