Stage: Getting Involved in ‘The Nosebleed’

Aya Ogawa never had a memorial service after their father died. So there’s one every night in “The Nosebleed,” Ogawa’s unusually involving Obie-winning play getting its regional premiere at Woolly Mammoth.

The untapped anger and frustration of dealing with an emotionally unavailable father is at the heart of the work, otherwise named after a malady suffered by two young sons – minor episodes that nonetheless come with enough blood and screams to force a crack in normal family relations.

The reactions of the four-member cast who each play different aspects of Aya well represent the frantic inner dialog and panic that comes with parenthood.

It is Ogawa who introduces the work but otherwise plays those at its extreme ends of the narrative -the howling nose bleeding sons, but even more chilling the distant, confounding, increasingly debilitated father, who largely raises his family with his back to them, sitting at a cheap desk where unbeknownst to them, he’s typewritten an obit that they only find long after his death. The irritable patriarch is largely an enigmatic, formidable negative force in the corner.

Failure is a theme in the play I guess because there was no memorial service. So each actor shares a personal moment of their own failure (often the same one every night).. Audience members too are invited to share a moment of failure (Oddly, a lot of these stories involved dog poop opening night).

The audience is tipped off that there will be participation – even homework – when everyone is handed paper and pencil upon entry.

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