Jenny Magnus’ The Strange in New Orleans

Jenny Magnus’ play The Strange is being produced by Clove Productions in New Orleans. The story of a woman and a girl who meet 3 times in a room, exchanging existential places, is actually about the path of a meme. The notion that an idea can be infectious and be passed from one person to another is explored in this tightly wrought narrative. The Strange runs at The Backyard Ballroom, 3519 St Claude, New Orleans. OCTOBER 1-23, 8pm.

The Strange “… epitomizes… intelligent, demanding, mind-overhauling work…As many of her Curious Theatre Branch cohorts and she herself have done in the past, Magnus begins with an ethically charged question–can we share our darkest impulses with others, or are we solely responsible for our own ugliness?–and creates an unstable environment in which overworked minds labor through it. The minds here belong to two unnamed characters, a desperate, self-loathing woman and a psychologically insightful young girl. They meet when the woman stumbles drunk into the girl’s bedroom in the middle of the night. Neither knows the other. Perhaps the woman is a guest of the girl’s parents, but Magnus intentionally obscures the events leading to this unlikely encounter. From a conventional standpoint, this ambiguity would be bad playwriting; most authors would spend their first ten minutes trying to shore up the logic behind the meeting. But illogic–or at least randomness–is part of the effect of estrangement Magnus is after, as two characters clinging to the precipice of sleep try to make sense of their predicament right along with the audience. The Strange is a hard play to leave behind, for it resonates from the shadowy recesses of the psyche. The world this artist creates has the kind of towering hyperreality we experience only at three o’clock in the morning–upon awakening in a cold sweat…(Hayford, The Chicago Reader)