“Purple parallelogram I got in Amsterdam, made me dream a dream I didn’t understand.” — The Lemonheads
Checked out time-travel play A Parallelogram this weekend and really dug it. Warning: Spoilers Below…
The play focuses on Bee, a thirty-something woman who recently met her time traveler future self that — ala Quantum Leap and/or Timely Persuasion — only she can see or hear. The first act intersperses an argument with Bee’s boyfriend Jay between musings by the two Bees on the future and why it can’t be changed, sprinkling in some fun replaying of the Bee & Jay scenes via a time travel inducing remote control. Older Bee eventually lets it slip that Jay is going to leave Bee because he thinks she’s crazy.
That leads us into the second act, where Jay visits Bee in the hospital. Older Bee is also here. To Jay she’s the doctor, but to young Bee she’s still older Bee and converses as such in a brilliantly clever bit of three-way dialogue. The big reveal here is that Bee may have a brain tumor, which calls into question whether or not the future Bee is real or a hallucination. This becomes the central idea for the rest of the play.
Some random thoughts, observations and ponderings:
(Again — heavy on the spoilers, so stop here if you don’t want anything else given away.)
- The time travel bits during act one were a lot of fun and handled very well in a live setting. Loved it every time Jay would walk into the bathroom and re-enter through the bedroom door replaying his previous scene.
- At one point Bee reveals a tattoo of a blue jay on her arm for Jay, and future Bee simultaneously reveals the same tattoo to the audience. Since Bee later ends up dating J.J., it would have been cool if future Bee had two blue jays tattooed on her arm. (It’s possible she did and I missed it, but that’s what I would have done.)
- Older Bee’s monologue to the audience about the bird virus epidemic comes shortly after J.J.’s theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs and will one day regain their slot at the top of the food chain. Under the hallucination scenario, the timing works out that young Bee is making up the epidemic as older Bee is addressing the audience. This could be further supported by the way she tells the story, especially the “you’ll think I’m making this part up…” in the middle.
- Related: At one point when older Bee is giving her monologue she talks with her hands a lot — and in the background young Bee is on the bed having a muted conversation mirroring the hand motions exactly. Brilliantly done.
- Under the time travel scenario, you could argue that the presence of older Bee caused the chain of events that plays out in acts two and three in either classic “whatever happened, happened” style or the equally common “your solution was actually the cause…”
- The bit with the missing TV remote control that young Bee later mistakes for the time travel remote was a nice touch that feeds both sides of the debate.
Though I always get giddy over time travel, I’m equally a fan of a well done mindf**k so this play delighted me from both angles.
Tying it back to my opening song lyric quote, “Purple Parallelogram” was a song allegedly co-written by Evan Dando of the Lemonheads and Noel Gallagher of Oasis. It was slated to appear on the Lemonheads Car Button Cloth album, but was dropped at the last minute due to a request by Noel Gallagher.
Did it really happen, or did Evan Dando hallucinate the whole thing? Hmmm…