Out of My Head | Synecdoche, New York



200905171021.jpg I went to see Charlie Kaufman’s latest piece last night – Synecdoche, New York. I highly recommend it. For those familiar with his work, Kaufman continues to explore the problems of consciousness, and, in particular, the problem of mediating what is in our heads to those around us. He has mined the seam of the issues this throws up comically (Being John Malkovich), corporately and thus ethically (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), artistically (Adaptation)… and in Synecdoche he appears to want to weave all of those together to finally get the heart of the problem: how can I show others what my life and feelings really are?

The setup he uses is that of a tragic and troubled theatre director who wins an award that allows him an unlimited budget to create a meaningful work of art. Taking over a vast stadium-like space, he begins over the course of many years, to try to create one final piece of truthful theatre: a play which will show every minute of his life. This of course means he needs to cast someone to play himself, and someone to play each person around him, leading to some wonderful, confusing, plane weird and thought-provoking scenes.

Interestingly, his failure reflects the thoughts I’ve been posting about Satre: no matter how many notes he gives his actors, nor how detailed the sets (he ends up re-creating a vast copy of New York, hence the Synecdoche of the title) he simply cannot get across the ‘abyss that is his person.’ And tragically, the abyss is centered around the pain of losing his child and being unable to resurrect their relationship.

In this sense, it’s proper tragedy rather than comedy, and leaves one aching for a rupture, for the play and players, frustrated by their total inability to communicate effectively and understand one another or themselves, to be inter-rupted and experience true Love.


3 responses to “Out of My Head | Synecdoche, New York”

  1. Loved all his other stuff, and got a great review on front row. Guessing it’s less of a ‘date night’ movie than ‘Sunshine…’?

  2. Collin

    Jim, yes definitely not a date night movie, went to see it on a date in theaters.. Wonderful piece and left plenty to contemplate, but pretty depressing date movie.

  3. Not a date movie. Unless you date Germaine Greer.