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BOTANICA OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: January 28, 2012
Synopsis: Botanica is a creepy futuristic black comedy that examines our complicated relationship to plant life. Sealed in a human terrarium, two unorthodox botanists and a caretaker with a penchant for erotic literature unleash a flood of unusual findings and overturn the constraints of science and social norms.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"If you’ve ever wondered what a plant being Tasered sounds like, wonder no more. In “Botanica,” Jim Findlay’s overripe juxtaposition of scientific jargon and randy flora, the wildlife endures that and much, much more."
"It’s a transfixing and rather sad experience to see Jim Findlay’s exquisitely produced, inescapably dull Botanica destroy itself, like watching a machine tear itself to pieces. Botanica’s blueprint seems promising: The show’s dramatic engine—a fun B-movie motif of scientists going crazy—ought to be supercharged, and the set (a Peter Ksander mash-up of biodome and high-tech lab) is stunning. It’s a question of two impulses colliding and grinding together, so that each one is reduced. At its heart, the show wants to be dark and dirty, hypersaturated and Romantic. It wants to be Solaris and “The Drunken Boat” rolled into one. But Findlay’s instincts have been honed over the years as a designer, not a director. Every physical problem has been solved and solved again, until the sound-and-projection-heavy object gleams with electronic virtuosity. It’s the little earthy parts that we need. Those, and a script."
"Unless some local troupe stages an unusually rigorous revival of Little Shop of Horrors soon, Botanica—now playing at 3LD—likely stands as this season's only show to credit a "plant interaction designer" and a "consulting botanist." Amid a research lab/bio-dome (courtesy Peter Ksander's extraordinary set design, which includes more than 200 live plants), two scientists and a plant janitor conduct unorthodox experiments on vegetation. Convinced that these assorted flora experience something akin to human consciousness, the researchers coddle them, threaten them, and Taser them to force reactions. Janitor Chet (Chet Mazur) even initiates a sexual relationship with one particularly glossy subject."
"It's too easy to forget sometimes how wonderfully weird the experience of theatre can be. Human beings perform these rehearsed rituals before an audience, who are generally trained to key into psychological truths or emotional revelations, in the process overlooking the fundamental bizarreness of this play-acting for the sake of art."
"Jim Findlay's "Botanica" is a large, immersive multimedia production ruminating on the consciousness of plants, as well as on their—ahem—relations with humans. Much like the contact wires and electrodes that periodically zap the flora in set designer Peter Ksander's magnificent bio-habitat, writer-director Findlay and his co-writer, Jeff Jackson, use frequent jolts of loony passion, audio feedback, and human-plant sexual interaction to offset the procedural malaise of two botanists running bizarre tests. "Botanica" is most certainly mad, and though Findlay allows its errant buds of whimsy to germinate perhaps a little too long, it's also mad fun."
"The title of Jim Findlay and Jeff Jackson's offbeat new show, Botanica, now at 3LD, instantly brings to mind the world of plants, a notion that is reinforced upon receiving a plant leaf for a ticket at the box office and then proceeding into the theater through the greenhouse of the set to choose a seat."
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