As I arrive in Greenwich Village, I walk quickly to Columbus Street and finally find the address. The building looks nothing like a theater, rather a brick apartment building. I am anxious to claim my tickets, and it’s not yet 7. Maybe some dinner? I re-arrive at the unchanged building at 7:30. Walking through the green heavy doors I see there is a divide; I can either continue to the back of the building or I can go downstairs where I notice a sign for what I am to see: The Eyes of Others presented by the New Ohio Theater. I walk down the stairs and there is soft yellow lighting in an intimate waiting area where there is a table set up as a makeshift ticket booth.
Upon claiming my tickets I breathe deeply and know that I am about to see something new. Walking into the dimly lit theater I witness something strange and different to me. The stage is not higher than the audience, rather the audience is inclined towards the ceiling and the stage rests placidly on the floor. There is one set and it is hard to distinguish in the dark. As I sit listening to the people talking around me I hear that some people have seen this upwards of three times: they love it. I wonder, am I now predisposed to liking this, will I like it, will it live up to its whispered reputation?
At 8:10 the stage lights go on, illuminating the stage where two middle-aged “average-Joe” men are standing in the middle. It looks as if they are in a square. They claim that they are on their lunch breaks, yet they do not eat, and there is no one else in the square. The play is centered on these two business men, who are left unnamed. This is especially important as it contributes to just how relatable this play is. The men show off their expensive watches and speak of nameless children, speaking to the overall detached vibe this play has. Materialism and mundaneness are vital themes. The men meet every day and are always watched by an ever present spector. Nothing changes. One of the most vital facets of this play is the “person” who always watches them while they are in the square. They never interact but this adds a factor of the unknown and ever-present. Interestingly enough, the “scenes” portrayed in this play shift. There are multiple different scenes which contain different un-named characters who are all related to the two men in the square. The play seems to be speaking to society as a whole, voicing the undoubted sameness of people, places, and things.
An ongoing source frustration to the main characters is the unknown person always watching them. This is the one driving force in the play. There is no main objective – the performance is not going anywhere specific and cannot be resolved with a snap of the fingers. This epitomizes the “realness” of this play. The one aspect of the plot that can be resolved is the mystery of the person watching the men in the square. They always talk about him, want to know who he is, why he is watching them; and yet they are always too afraid to do anything. Standing in their way is the looming silence. They do not want to speak to him because it will ruin the symbolic relationship they share. And yet their curiosity kills them.
The one constant is the consistent feeling of isolation and loneliness. It shows the lives of two people and the ones who surround them. To give a synopsis of what happened “play by play” would be an injustice to the art. In order to grasp the message of this piece of art one needs to see it for his or her self. Although this is what I have personally taken from the play, people may interpret this in a myriad of ways. The play gives off the vibe of an overall melancholy life, repetitive and unchanging. It showed the real-life isolation that everyone experiences at one point or another. About a week after seeing the play someone asked me what I thought of it. All I said was that it was weird, a dismissive and un-thoughtful word. As I sit at my computer typing an opinion that will be read by others, I’ve realized that this play is a startling reflection of everyday life. It is “weird” because I am not used to having someone hold up a mirror to society and transfer that image to a stage.
Image from newohiotheatre.org