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Review: The Object Lesson at Studio Theatre

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On a rainy DC Sunday, following SoulCycle and a delicious brunch at Ardeo and Bardeo, Cori Sue and I decided to partake in a little interactive theatre on 14th Street.  We arrived at Studio Theatre, then followed the line of patrons up four flights of stairs into a dusty, cluttered, yet welcoming attic.

Enchanted and curious by the disorder, spectators floated through Studio Theatre’s fourth floor storage space, lined floor-to-ceiling with thousands of cardboard boxes. Each box served some sort of provocative purpose— whether it be to strike up the conversation of two spectators, or to illicit a thought or reaction to a memento or emotional label.

As more and more people twisted through the attic, the boxes and things seemed to intrigue guests with a curiosity that surrounded the clutter.  The room quieted as the lights dimmed and Geoff Sobelle, the sole-performer, poked around and silently searched for, dusted off, and constructed an old living room that seemed to settle him into a clean space among the boxes and patrons.

Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at Studio Theatre. Photo: Allie Dearie.
Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at Studio Theatre. Photo: Allie Dearie.

From that space, the audience follows Sobelle through an unpacking exercise that launches him into a panic attack that spurs the theatre to transform into Sobelle’s playground of things and nostalgia.

The audience participates and interacts with his journeys, the things in the attic, and even at times shares some of their own things and thoughts.  The audience listens, waits, and watches Sobelle while passing around wine, goat cheese, and a baguette and learning of his longing for the freedom of his youth in Paris.

In a never-ending box, Sobelle unleashes things, experiences, and thoughts.  He takes the audience with him as he dives headfirst into a physical and metaphysical journey into the space of the things we cling to.

Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at Studio Theatre. Photo: Allie Dearie.
Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at Studio Theatre. Photo: Allie Dearie.

He asks, “Do you have what you need? Do you need what you have?”

The play will be running at Studio Theatre May 18th to June 5th. Tickets are $45, or $25 for those under 30 with a sign up for the Studio 25 Club (membership is free).

Studio Theatre
1501 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(202) 232- 7267

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