Umbilical strikes a confusing cord


Written By: Michael Landes

Directed by: Adam Chrisnall

Theater: Flamboyán / Theater at The Clemente

Address of Theater: 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002

Dates of Show: 7/23, 7/25, 7/28, 7/31, 8/2, 8/4 (times available at planet connections website)

Review By: Nusrat Hossain

Umbilical consists of an injured woman dragging a body bag, with an umbilical cord going straight from under her dress to into the bag. She appears to have just given birth due to the unnaturally large umbilical cord trailing out from under her dress and into the body bag. She comes upon a mute man raking rocks in a rock garden. These two attempts to contact in what is described as a lonely, post-apocalyptic world. At first, we as the audience may the delusion that the short monologue between the woman and the man will increase. The plot will increase in climax soon enough and there will be an end to the audience’s boredom. However, unfortunately I was left unsatisfied and disappointed.

To begin with, before going in depth of the flaws, I would like to point out that the actors were excellent. Obviously talented, the cast for Umbilical composed of David Shakopi who had played the man. The poor, sad little man who was mute as well. Joyce Miller was chosen to play the role of the previously pregnant woman. Joyce has not only done great on this show but, also mesmerized the crowds in a staged reading of  “The Handmaid’s Dianetics.” In the plot, there was also a flutist that would randomly appear when the other characters were asleep. This role was played by Denver Crawford, and sound design was done by Vander Washington.

Now, as for the flaws, their greatest flaw was not having a purpose to depict to the audience. Even if they did have a message, most of the play this message was very unclear. As an audience member, I could not understand what exactly the play was trying to convey. Not even one bit. The plot remained quite monotone and did not have as much suspense as expected. In the play, the woman would try to talk to the man, walk around. The man would stand there dumb-founded and would also listen to the radio. Afterwards, they would sleep, and the flute man would come out repeating the same words every time. The west side is infected, and he mentions some others. This continues for the whole play as if it had been a song put on repeat. I did not find much amusement towards this play. However, if this interests you, please do check it out and tell me what you think. I would love some insight from someone who enjoyed this play.

I got the feeling this was someone trying to copy Samuel Beckett by tossing in some Godot and End Game.

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