In Red Fly/Blue Bottle, Christina Campanella (music) and Stephanie Fleischman (words) have forged a mesmerizing fusion of performance art and multisensory installation. In their hallucinatory world, dialogue, music, archival video, and live video swirl together on a stage that stands as a striking and immediate visual allusion to Joseph Cornell’s assemblages. Sectioned off with moveable scrim walls, the stage is filled with objects from old radios, record players, musical instruments and broadcasting equipment, to piles of suitcases and personal effects, around which the performers, be they singing, speaking, or playing an instrument deftly maneuver.
The story centers on two lovers (Jesse Hawley as Clarissa and Chris Lee as The Man) who begin the show together, but when a clock explodes, The Man, as if triggered by a post-hypnotic suggestion, leaves immediately for a secret war, for unknown parts and assignments, though it all has a distinctly Cold War-espionage air. Unsure where he went, or what will become of him, Clarissa is haunted by thoughts of him, and the audience catches glimpses of The Man stuck in a bare white cell, ostensibly under enemy capture, the two divided by time and space but conjoined in their thoughts of each other. The performers’ lines spill off their lips like poetry , their disjointed thoughts and wonders about their fates forming the backbone of this surreal psychological piece that’s a compelling meditation on time and the agonies of waiting for a reunion that may never come.