Theater Spotlight: He Woke Up in a Strange Place Called Home and Although Looking for Bed He Kept Finding Death Instead


The jarring of the surreal and unfamiliar may well be the source of what most frightens us, as well as a major component of what makes us laugh. Charles Campbell's He Woke Up... strives for each result in its disjointed tale of a soldier returning home from war and trying to reconnect with what he once knew. As with most of Skewed Visions' site-specific productions, revealing too much of what takes place can rob potential viewers of surprises, but suffice it to say that the show begins in a private home, with Campbell dressed in a bathrobe and curled up snoring on a patch of carpet in front of a piano. From there the audience (necessarily limited in number) moves to a patio, to the sidewalk outside, down the street, and, finally, to another house. Along the way Campbell's disoriented soldier witnesses (along with us) abstract tableaus involving soldiers, women in period dress, mock executions, and a convincing evocation of the things that bump and chatter in the mind's sub-basement. Much of the dialogue involves snippets from such disparate sources as Beckett, Büchner's Woyzeck, hard-boiled crime fiction, and the Odyssey myth. Campbell has a knack for small, anxious asides that help create a fully realized character amid the psychic insubordination, and the greatest power in the piece is the way it searches through jagged and distorted shards for a universal sense of solace, familiarity, and safety. At times its techniques, its feel, and its emotional palate feel like flashbacks from past Skewed Visions efforts. That's not a bad thing, creating echoes of previous (provocative and excellent) works, but there's also a danger: that moments of the ostensibly unfamiliar will arrive with a whiff of familiarity. Still, if you don't know this company's work: go. You will remember it. $15-$18. 8:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Skewed Visions; call 800.838.3006 for tickets and location. Through May 31