POST: FringeNYC's 'The Arkadina Project' - I guess we are all misunderstood

What'd I experience?

Watching The Arkadina Project was like experiencing a 90 minute game of word association. For every scene there was a word plastered in my mind that would float around casually as it followed the conversations of the characters on stage.

Opening scene was pitch black and very ominous, until a spotlight revealed a lone person on the stage. In my mind I thought, there is no better way to go about starting in medias res than with a dark room.

I am introduced to three extremely different characters and immediately I bestow upon each of them a word. The first to be introduced, Masha, had me overcome with a heavy feeling of restlessness. Despite this, her character’s humor clashing with her slight sadness made me feel right at home and she became my favorite. Her low voice was comforting, her attire dark as the stage, and the fact that she was speaking to the audience as if we were her AA support group left me anxious to know more.

Up next, Kostya who was addressing what seemed to have been a therapist or a confiding friend reeked of misunderstood. Because of his rapid speaking and wide eyes, he was definitely an interesting character that I yearned to explore emotionally. Not surprisingly, he ended up being the most difficult to understand. Last, and possibly least, was Nina who I didn’t quite take a liking to right off the bat. Her word was happy. And that was it. Pure unadulterated happiness that poured from her even though she was speaking to an invisible priest at a confession booth. I couldn’t quite figure out the reason why I disliked her. Maybe it was because I found her unrelatable? I don't know.

The scenes unfolded like a fast­ paced Netflix binge of one of my favorite series. I don’t usually like absolutes, but my absolute favorite aspect of this play was the dark humor sprinkled effortlessly from the mouths of the characters into my mind, taking up to minutes to seep into me and make me realize the extent of what had occurred. The reason for my favoritism here is personal. Not personal enough to keep to myself, however. There were jokes made about romantic mishaps, aspirations, suicide, disappointment, expectations... normalities that I come to understand about myself and later realize I shouldn’t simply accept as a granted in life. I teach myself to respect the difficulties of living but Nina, Kostya, and Masha each battle one as well as speak out about it every time they get their minute of solitude on the pitch black stage.

It wasn’t all sadness and realizations though, there was plenty of excitement and smile triggering events. It was so interactive and I found myself attempting to follow all the action at once. Although there were only three characters, I kept feeling distracted from one by another. Each was so unique, nonetheless, I observed that the one string that tied them all together was their craving for approval and admiration. To me, they represented that lack of understanding of ourselves, of our close relationships, and of those who remain strangers to us.

The end of the play left me not quite facing some tendencies humans have: to seek out acceptance from our lovers, our parents, our friends, and strangers. I guess we are all restlessly misunderstood, just aiming to be happy.

- Sofia M.

Want to see it?

$21.54 tickets (online)

The Arkadina Project
The Kraine Theater
Showing August: Mon 22 @ 6:15 | Wed 24 @ 2:30 | Sat 27 @ 3:15