Curtain Critic: Catch Ear, Space 55’s last play at Pierce location

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(Courtesy of Space 55)

If you like raunchy jokes and dark comedy, then Ear is the play for you. Even if you don’t, you can still swing by and catch a performance. Although this play isn’t gory, it’s bound to offend someone and it is definitely not your typical cutesy cookie-cutter production, which makes it even better.

Ear is an original, full-length, modern play that’s inspired by the story of Vincent Van Gogh giving away the gift of himself (his ear) to his girlfriend. The difference? We actually get to find out what happens afterwards. Writer and director Ashley Naftule began writing this play about a year and a half ago for that very reason.

Half of the play follows Errata (played by Marcella Grassa), who is Vincent’s girlfriend. The other half follows Vincent (played by Paul Kolecki), who cuts his ear off as a gift to Errata, and is then sent to a mental institution. Throughout the show, Errata is struggling with whether to keep the ear or toss it. Every so often she hears voices and music coming from the ear Vincent gifted her.

Some of the scenes in the show will leave you speechless, questioning what you’ve just witnessed. If the interesting character names aren’t enough, you will see a character make out with Vincent’s ear. You will see a cannibal in action. You’ll also see Vincent’s psychiatrist stripped down while getting “healed” by a man named Don Pablo. Basically, you’ll experience it all.

“It’s bound to offend at least one person in the audience,” says Space 55 artistic director and cast member Duane Daniels.

Perhaps the most offensive parts in the show involve Vincent’s psychiatrist, Dr. Cochlear (played by Duane Daniels). Don’t be fooled, though; Dr. Cochlear isn’t your typical psych doctor. The relationship Cochlear has with his clients is one that would immediately strip away a medical professional’s license to practice. Dr. Cochlear is the type of character that leaves your side hurting from laughter. It’s that good.

His relationship with Vincent is interesting, as Cochlear seems to be the one who should be in the mental institution himself. Daniels does an excellent job portraying Cochlear. His voice, mannerisms and facial expressions made his performance my favorite in the play. Even Naftule, who wrote the play, described Cochlear as being his favorite character to write.

Once you begin watching this play, it’ll have you hooked due to it being so different than the typical plays one might see off Broadway. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s not cookie-cutter. It’s a unique piece of art that left me pleasantly surprised. The play explores dark romance, comedy, fear and revenge.

However, Ear means a lot more to the cast and crew than just its world premiere on stage. Space 55 has been sold and Ear will be the last production to take place at Space 55’s original location before they transition to a new theater.

Space 55 has been up and running for over 10 years, and a lot of the cast and crew have mixed emotions regarding the move.

“It’s complicated, I mean, I’ve been involved in theater for about six years, so it’s kind of a second home,” says Naftule. For Daniels, the feeling is “nostalgic.” Daniels says he’s hoping this will be the nudge the company needs to improve.

Space 55 is an intimate space, unlike other theater companies you might encounter. It produces original content and is like a second home for most actors in the ensemble. Have no fear; this may be Space 55’s last production at the original location, but they will be performing in another space that has yet to be announced.

“I think we’re all determined to go out with a bang,” says Grassa.

Ear is running through Sept. 24 at Space 55, located on 636 East Pierce St. The theater is currently accepting donations to help transition to a new location. For more information you can visit Space55.org.

Contact the reporter: folibarr@asu.edu