"Five Lives/A Collaboration," at the Washington Project for the Arts, is one of those theater pieces that are more interesting for the performers than for the audience. Using techniques that were "experimental" a generation ago, the show provokes neither intellectual, esthetic nor sensual interest.
The techniques are those of organized randomness and the blurring of divisions between the disciplines of theater, dance and music. Thus the five performers walk and run in separate patterns around the stage, speaking lines that relay fragments of information about the actors' own lives, past and future. They speak at rather than to each other, there is no linear progression of anything like a story, and the piece ends approximately where it began.
It is sort of the living embodiment of a mobile, with each actor representing a dangling piece moving in its own space. And if you think staring at a mobile for an hour is interesting, you'll enjoy "Five Lives."
Of the performers, only Sarah Walton is inherently appealing onstage. The others perform with energy and precision, but their efforts inevitably fail to ignite a work that has less action than your average traffic jam. The piece evolved out of several workshops last fall, and it seems likely that the invention process was more rewarding than the product.
FIVE LIVES/A COLLABORATION, conceived and directed by Akim Nowak and Wendy Woodson, with Bill Baker, Christopher Dupre, Shira Malkin, Isabel-Lee Malone and Sarah Walton.
At the WPA through tomorrow.