ONCE WHEN I WAS LOST
On the Boards, 100 W. Roy, 217-9888, $12-$14 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. ends Sun., Nov. 18
THE FIRST PIECE in seven years from experimental performance troupe Run/Remain, Once When I Was Lost is, according to its press release, an "exploration of memory, artifice, and true love." Well, you got me there, but you have to give it this—it's audacious and assured and doesn't much care if you don't "get it," which may or may not be an asset, depending on your tolerance for such things. Most multidisciplinary work is determinedly in-your-face, demanding that you appreciate its supposedly vital obtuseness. But Lost is calmly what it is, flickering like the jumpy Super-8 images occasionally reeling in its background. That confident nonchalance has its rewards, but it also means that you don't much care if you don't get it. So what, then, is the point?
The show begins with musician Dan Tierney on drums, ukulele, and kazoo, and filmmaker Gregg Lachow (who created the piece with wife and co-performer Megan Murphy) announcing, "We begin with an encounter over a Twix bar. . . ." A little of this kind of random irreverence goes a long way, and, wisely, the piece (and its ensemble, which also includes Sarah Harlett and two young folks, Sam Lachow and Maggie Brown) only ever gives you a languid little: The hour-long evening is constructed from a string of similarly capricious blackout scenes.
If you let it quietly poke at you and resign yourself to thinking about it later, the show has its charms. A dance combination motif is strangely lovely, and it's hard to keep your eyes off Murphy, who is somehow drowsy and grave and whimsical all at once. The evening isn't without frivolity, either: there's a funny bit of absurdity in which Murphy doubles as "internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami," phoning the children in broken English with an offer to appear in his latest project.
Much of it, though, plays like what an indelicate clod might refer to as "a wank." Despite the aforementioned indifference, you can sometimes feel as though you're being dared to find the whole affair insufferable and annoying. At one point, Harlett (who was a highlight of the Typing Explosion's recent Dear Diane but is made to be a little stiff here) relates to the kids a morning of changing the oil in her car, which they greet with a sullen, extended complaint about the troublesome sound of the syllable "oi" (as in, "Oy, do I feel guilty when I don't enjoy the performances of children in experimental theater").
Lost is offbeat (and well-designed) but, forgive me, doesn't leave you with anything to find.