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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Theater Review: ‘Synchronicity In the Life of a Motorcycle’

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Synchronicity In the Life of a Motorcycle Just Events suggests they may have gotten tired of microdosing. After last year’s “Phantasmagoria,” which made an apparently hallucinogenic journey through time, the collective from Tokyo gets more specific with a one-off the size of most Broadway shows. What happens is the group has made a riding world record — at 26,589 miles — and have sent its pilot into orbit. How that happens and who he/she is is a question that remains enigmatically answered — no plot — and part of what makes the show intriguing is that because of its lack of payoff, you’re left to find the puzzle yourself. Structurally, there’s some musical complexity — you get snippets of a contemporary music video of what might be “Tie Me Down”-era Michael Jackson, but otherwise, the music is simple, and little of it is memorable or thrilling. The whiplash stage direction, by Tan Keng Yam, has the whole thing resting on several tropes we can guess at — a father/son bond, the blurring of time itself, and the supernatural moments that should be portrayed as convincingly as human intervention can. But those traits — and the show overall — almost seem by design, and the effect is highly disorienting. This re-engineering of time and space allows for these intermittent adventures but it also requires actors to make hyper-dramatic outbursts. As the character who has manifested into space, actor Masaharu Murata continues the theme of exaggeration and/or amusement that has filled the collective with renown. Despite being done at a theater a few blocks from Rockefeller Center, the show couldn’t possibly be more far from the realm of contemporary events. That sense of transience, alluding to the very show itself, makes it satisfying in places but disappointing in others. And like the filmmakers of the 1950s who attributed New Year’s Eve to mysterious forces, the group suggest they’re closer to realizing their wild ideas. (Marc Ballew)

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