THE CHINESE ART OF PLACEMENT by Stanley Rutherford, directed by Rusty Owen, with Stephen Najera. Presented by Michael Kash and Bridge Productions at the Alley Theatre Workshop (12 Ossington). Runs to November 28, Tuesday-Wednesday 8 pm, Thursday-Saturday 8 and 10 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $20, Sunday $15. 416-703-9211. Rating: NNN
Feng shui rules, and not just for Martha Stewart home-decorating types. Sparky Litman, the non-stop talker in Stanley Rutherford 's solo show The Chinese Art Of Placement , tells us about himself while he ritually rearranges the one chair in his apartment, trying to get the right energies to flow productively through his life.
Drawing on that system of philosophy and art, which holds that the placement of objects in a home can increase the positive aspects of a person's existence, Sparky casts off his old life and claims to seek a new one. An angry, bitter poet until he burned his writings last night, Sparky now wants to be normal and connect with other people. Though he says he has no sex drive, his conversation shows he's obsessed with getting off.
Full of apologies and explanations, he talks about the party he plans to throw, his past experience as a spy in Soviet Russia, family problems and embarrassment during puberty. If that's not enough, ants have invaded Sparky's apartment, and he angrily attacks them by using what looks like a bizarre form of flamenco dancing.
Part fantasies and part worries we can associate with, Rutherford's script, with its leapfrogging ideas, has some clever moments and some all-too-human truths about fear and isolation.
But the show goes on for half an hour longer than necessary to make the point, despite Stephen Najera 's energetic work as Sparky. He attacks the piece with comic gusto under Rusty Owen 's direction, though there's no need for the regular high-decibel shouting in the newly opened, small black-box theatre. We get it, without the ringing in our ears.