New York

Mathew in the School of Life

The Kitchen

Stained-glass tarot cards flanked the set of the Ridge Theater’s multimedia performance Mathew in the School of Life, n.d., flashing and flickering like pinball machines. John Moran (the piece’s author, composer, and protagonist) appeared on stage dressed in classic Star Wars gear, aping Michael Jackson’s moon-walk to a score of soaring strings, vocoded voices, and myriad other sound effects. Replete with pop cultural quotations, “found sound,” slide projections, and educational filmstrips, Mathew in the School of Life played like a primer in performative pastiche. Though billed as a “sci-fi musical theatre work,” this post-Modern parable about a “robot angel” tuned to absorb human misery is really more hi-fi than sci-fi. One watches with the same degree of engagement with which, well, one watches a pinball machine: somewhat involved but aware that the quarters (and time) would be better

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