Bob played by Will Bond presented by SITI Company at New York Live Arts is brilliant. The character of Robert Wilson is portrayed by bringing elements of his personal life and professional life together seamlessly for an inside look at the famed theater director.
It is as if Bond has inhabited Bob’s body, matching the long pauses, the high-pitched inflections, and the gestures. He executes the theatrically polished stories infusing bits of his theater and at times losing concentration and falling to stuttering. In true Bob fashion, the piece plays with the audience, asking them to question the motives of what he was saying. Could we genuinely hang on every word that Bob says when he tells a story about one day only saying, “Hmm” to see how far he could get?
The work also plays as a Robert Wilson work with its lighting, music, choreography, stillness and simplicity. The stage is set with a Wilson designed chair and table and a grid pattern on the floor. The lighting is bright, it is intense, it is dramatic. On the table is a gallon of milk which Bob drinks intermittently, adding a layer of tension to the already tense work.
And yet, with all the theatricality and storytelling, the work is more than just biographical – it speaks to the idea of theater. In one anecdote, Bob says that normal theater speeds up time and by the end the work itself has explained its meaning, which in essence leaves no time or space for contemplation. What is theater if it does not challenge one to think?
All in all, the theatricality, the emotion, and the psychology of the work engages the audience and encourages them to reflect on the life of one man, and his impact on theater.