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‘Welcome to the White Room’ is rife with curiosity and the bizarre

I try not to reveal many details of a play’s plot in my reviews. While reviewing Ixion Theatre’s “Welcome to the White Room,” avoiding such details is easy. I’m unsure what its plot is.

“Welcome to the White Room” follows a bizarre script by Trish Harnetiauex that seems to take place in the future. Like Ixion’s September production of “Chalk,” their current show in the Robin Theatre has an apocalyptic theme.

In “Chalk,” it was obvious that the antagonists were alien beings. In “Welcome to the White Room,” the manipulators are simply referred to as “they.”

It comes as no surprise when the set is revealed to be draped with white curtains, featuring all-white embellishments. The real surprise is that neither a purpose nor location of the white room is divulged.

In this brightly lit setting, for five of six introduced “parts,” three characters share weird dialogue. As the hour-long play progresses, most of the obscure chatter seems to relate to video games, virtual reality and gamer roles. Conversations also include talk of memories of being boars, a meal that left broccoli in the teeth, a desire to kiss and a “Big Clean” event.

Jacquelyne Marks is Ms. White, a delicate-looking, clinical woman who seems driven to win. Paul Schmidt is the older and more scientific Jennings, who speaks in a German accent and is called “Brit.” Nick Lemmer plays Mr. Paine, a sturdy fellow who often acts like a marionette. His crying is unconvincing but his stage falls are brutally real. It’s unclear why Mr. Paine and Ms. White have a dance.

The actors often appear somewhat stiff and robotic. Maybe that was the intent of director Leo Poroshin. In his “Director’s Notes,” Poroshin asks if CGI makes a live theatre performance “an archaic curio.”

“Welcome to the White Room” has aspects that maybe only true gamers will understand. Those of us who are inexperienced in the art have a disadvantage comprehending much of the gobbledygook and gamerisms.

Anyone will still find humor and levels of fascination with the wondering-what-is-real play. It is a mix of slapstick, cerebral puzzles, inside jokes and bits that make about as much sense as finding square, plastic Cheerios in a flattened can of Spaghetti O’s.

The late, “Part Six” appearance of Daniel Bonner — as the more animated, Patrick — does offer some clarifications. That doesn’t mean “Welcome to the White Room’s” conclusion provides satisfying resolutions to many of the countless questions the play presents.

I was bewildered early on, and by the play’s end, I was still mystified.

“Welcome to the White Room” $15 General, $5 Artist Rush Saturday, Oct. 27, 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m. The Robin Theatre 1105 South Washington Ave., Lansing www.ixiontheatre.com/ (517) 775-4246


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