Static Apnea

Is this short live theatre performance worth the risk of attending in person?

By Andrew Andrews

A corridor of blue light directs the viewer toward the lone performer, standing behind glass and a microphone.

There’s no doubt that live theatre is going to be different as New York, the nation and the world work their way back to normal on the tails of COVID-19. We can all expect smaller performances, not only in terms of the size of the audience, but the size of the cast as well.

As a baby step, The American Vicarious takes small to the extreme with Static Apnea, a nine-minute performance by a cast of one, delivered to a single audience member in a shipping container, outfitted with lights, sounds, and a bit of a labyrinth—not to mention a solid glass wall separating the microphone-side performer from the speaker-side viewer.

A shipping container, disinfected between performances, has been specially configured as the venue. Hand sanitizer is provided for those entering and exiting the space.

Static Apnea can boast a pretty high production value, especially considering the zero-dollar price tag, current restrictions on proximity, and efforts that must be taken, not only to keep attendees safe, but to make us feel safe. Throughout the short performance, I didn’t perceive any risk of infection, and given the intimacy of the space, it’s impossible to not feel engaged with the actor on the opposite side of the glass.

The delivery was flawless, accompanied by an ambiance of mood-setting lighting and enveloping sound.

The script itself is somewhat intriguing, but my mind did wander a bit from the monologue to my surroundings and the physical presence of the person before me. The ending was so anticlimactic that it actually passed me by, leaving me face to face with the performer in awkward silence for longer than it takes the G Train to arrive.

In a pre-COVID world, I wouldn’t recommend a special trip to Cobble Hill just for this short piece, although a few minutes checking out the exhibit by Steven and William Ladd in the adjoining galleries of the Invisible Dog Art Center certainly add value to the experience.

That said, we're no longer in a pre-COVID world and there aren’t many choices right now for those of us jonesing for live theatre. So for the mere opportunity to scratch that itch at no cost or significant risk, I do whole-heartedly recommend Static Apnea. You might not be amazed, but you won’t be disappointed.


Andrew Andrews attended Static Apnea at The Invisible Dog Art Center Special Shipping Container in Brooklyn on Saturday, September 12, 2020 @ 2:00pm to write this review.