I do believe I could just sit and watch Gavin Robertson just walk around a room all day.
The actor/playwright is a gifted physical performer, as theatergoers who have seen his previous performances know, but he’s also a formidable playwright -- especially when he allows himself to pursue philosophical questions to their logical conclusions.
“The Six-Sided Man,” his two-character play that can be as challenging as it is entertaining, is a dark, comic meditation on the nature of choice and the question of fate: Is it self-imposed or determined by an imperceptible external force?
Robertson performs the piece with the equally talented Nicholas Collett as part of the Invasion, which runs through Sunday at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Using minimal props -- a desk, a couple of chairs, three door frames -- the actors deliver a showcase of economical acting. These are subtle, nuanced performances that waste no effort.
But Robertson and Collett are also exceptional physical actors. There’s quite a bit of superb miming in this show, but all of it remains subordinate to the story and the themes Robertson wrestles with. Restroom sinks, a copying machine, a cluttered kitchen and other locations are vividly portrayed, even though we “see” them only through our mind’s eye.
Based on “The Dice Man,” a 1971 novel, the play depicts a psychiatrist (Collett) and a patient (Robertson). The psychiatrist has adopted a philosophy of making life choices based on the roll of a single die, which informs his “treatment” of the patient, who complains of vivid, disturbing dreams.
Robertson takes his time getting around to what ultimately is a rather bleak conclusion, but along the way he and Collett keep us engaged with potent humor, contemplative questions and impeccable performances. This is a unique work that virtually demands a second viewing. And let’s face it: There aren’t many plays you can say that about.
To reach Robert Trussell, call 816-234-4765 or send email to email@example.com.
Remaining performances for “The Six-Sided Man” are at 9 p.m. July 22; 7:30 July 25 and 6 p.m. July 26 at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, 3614 Main St. For a complete Invasion schedule, go to www.cstkc.com. Call 816.-569-3226.