Review: “When We Went Electronic” at The Tank

Drita Kabashi, left, and Tiffany Iris in Caitlin Saylor Stephens’s play “When We Went Electronic” at the Tank in Manhattan.CreditCreditSkye Morse-Hodgson

Drita Kabashi, left, and Tiffany Iris in Caitlin Saylor Stephens’s play “When We Went Electronic” at the Tank in Manhattan.CreditCreditSkye Morse-Hodgson

Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Critic

After a long and busy night involving sex and intoxication, it might be easy to forget what happened, with memories getting blurred and distorted, leaving them to question how good or bad last night really was. In Caitlin Saylor Stephens’s new play at “The Tank”, we see this type of scenario play out in a highly absurdist fashion, as two American Apparel models question the reality of the events of what happened the previous night.

I have to admit, even during the first few minutes of When We Went Electronic, I found myself guessing a bit, in terms of what the genre of the show would be. Some of the warnings of graphic content left me expecting a serious, humorless drama, but certain parts of the first half of the play left me laughing as hard as any decent comedy would. Furthermore, the brief description of the show that is advertised doesn’t give too much to go off of. So which would it be?

The answer, based on my own interpretation: Both.

If this two-person piece – starring the talented character actors Tiffany Iris and Drita Kabashi - is anything at all, it is a dark comedy, with particularly dark themes that are explored. More than that, though, it is a fine example of how experimental plays in the 21st century can explore modern culture and important issues of drug abuse and sexual assault without it coming off as a purely issue-oriented play. There’s plenty of humorous dialogue along the way, as the show gradually takes darker turns toward its gut-wrenching climax, and both Ms. Iris and Ms. Kabashi do a fine job at bringing these characters to life.

Furthermore, the show – directed by Meghan Finn – is also one of the most visually and aesthetically impressive indie theatre productions I’ve seen in 2018. From the beginning of the show, Sarah Johnston’s colorful neon lighting design proves to be just as eye-catching as the actors. The scene design – covered in white lights across the walls – from Skye also proves to be masterfully done, given one the impression that the audience really is in a synthetic, electronic room rather than the proscenium theater the show is staged in.

It’s not necessarily for everyone, as it contains material – particularly toward the end – that is truly disturbing, and may be triggering for some audience members. However, I personally couldn’t take my eyes off of the performances and production value, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys theatre that is equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking…literally.

           

WHEN WE WENT ELECTRONIC

“When We Went Electronic” stars Tiffany Iris and Drita Kabashi.

“When We Went Electronic” is written by Caitlin Saylor Stephens and directed by Meghan Finn, featuring music by Sarah Frances Cagianese and Caitlin Saylor Stephens, scenic design from Skye, lighting design from Sarah Johnston, costume design from Sharne Van Ryneveld, sound design from Anthony Dean, stage manager Patrick Harnett-Marshall, associate director Michaela Escarcega, and press representation from Emily Owens.

“When We Went Electronic” runs at The Tank, located at 312 W 36th Street, New York, NY, from October 25th-November 11th. Run time is 70 minutes without intermission. Please be advised that the usage of strobe lights is included in this show, as well as depictions and discussions of extreme violence, including sexual violence and rape.

For more information, please visit www.thetanknyc.org