Surrounded begins before the lights go down. We’re confronted with an unsettling set; a canvas smeared in red paint, like blood from bodies that have been dragged. "Screens" that will house haunting projections are crafted from torn white plastic. And there’s the kinetic, pulsating score, heightening the anxiety.
This visceral piece by Colorado’s Unexpected Laboratory uses theatre, film, stage combat and dance to take us into the mind of a deeply troubled young man who is considering an act of violence.
Connor is a 22-year-old virgin who has been "forced to lead a life of rejection and unfulfilled desires." Sound eerily familiar? Indeed, there are shades of Isla Vista in this piece, as well as several other mass shootings. The show boldly tackles a variety of important issues — such as societal pressures put on boys to be Real Men — and the five estimable players on stage (all playing Connor in some form or another) turn in powerful, deeply physical performances.
This show is gutting, but it’s also disturbing — particularly a scene in which the lone woman onstage is put in a cage, electrocuted and led around like a dog, perhaps to signify the subconscious repression/reprogramming of Connor’s "feminine" side. It left this reviewer rattled. Note: this show is roughly 60 minutes, not 90.
— Jen Zoratti