Alarum Theatre's Saudade | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Alarum Theatre's Saudade

A unique evening of "one-on-one" theater

Saudade, at Alarum Theatre. Co.
Saudade, at Alarum Theatre. Co.

Hold onto something solid, because I'm going to try to tell you about Alarum Theatre's Saudade: a senseplay.

At a private home on Observatory Hill, you are ushered into the front parlor with four other audience members. Via a playing card you're given, you're directed to one of five rooms and instructed to knock on a door, close your eyes and keep them closed. An actor then guides you inside for your "experience." Once that is completed, you return to the parlor and visit another room. By design, you'll go to only four of the five rooms.

These were mine:

In the basement, a young man addressed me as "Davis." We are ex-lovers and I was a heartless bitch. At some point I was shooting up heroin. This man lived a very sad life and explained it in dour detail.

Next I was in the attic with a young woman who had a fascination with electricity and was hoping I might provide a "spark." She washed my hands and we danced for a while as she recounted the void that is her life.

Then I was in a bedroom with another young man with whom I had been lovers as some point as well. (Who knew I was such a tramp?) He was a photographer and we developed film, hugged for a while and had some wine.

I ended up in the kitchen with an aspiring novelist. She was working on her book and we made and baked some cinnamon rolls while she anguished over the creative process. And then I left.

The whole thing is devised and directed by Alarum's Dylan Marquis Meyers and Connor Pickett. Don't be put off by any of the above, by the way — the evening is constructed so you can opt out of anything that makes you nervous. The whole event, in fact, has been prepared with an exceptionally high level of professionalism. The fiercely committed actors involved are Matt Russak, Shannon Knapp, Bryant Edwards, Michael R. Young and Moira Quigley.

Yes, some evil part of me wanted to laugh, because that's my standard reaction to such po-faced intensity. Yet it's the troupe's solemn sincerity which brings the whole evening off.

A friend asked whether I enjoyed it. Considering that I suck at improv (which participants are required to do), and spent most of the evening feeling extreme discomfort (my one rule for theater is keep your hands to yourself), I wouldn't use the word "enjoy."

But I'm extremely glad I went and, if this is up your alley, I urge you to experience Saudade as well.

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