The mind of Gabe Levey DRA ’13 is furnished with a red curtain made of sheets, light blue walls covered in glow-in-the-dark stars, pinwheels and plastic dinosaurs.
I could tell because that is what the set of “Brainsongs, or the play about the dinosaur farm” at the Yale Cabaret this weekend looks like, and “Brainsongs” takes place inside of Levey’s mind.
Levey said he created the one-man show by bringing the images in his head to life.
“I had all these different ideas, but I didn’t know how to put them together. The one unifying factor is that they all live in my brain. This [show] is the inside of my imagination, my brain,” Levey said.
I didn’t quite realize what I was in for until I asked Levey for a copy of the script to refer to later.
“There is no script,” he said. “The show changes every night. I’m … adhering to more of a map.”
An unscripted Levey meant he could interact with the audience more, visibly pleased at their reactions and, at one point, even mimicking the laugh of a drama student next to me.
The show featured Levey’s (often humorous) actions more prominently than his words. Whether he was dancing with metallic mini-pinwheels or watching an electric pump blow up a large inflatable dolphin, what Levey did inside his mind (and on stage) was eager in an honest way. His raw emotion meant there was little guessing about what he was thinking: when he was excited I believed him, and when he was weeping, most of the time I felt bad for him. During a solemn moment, the music unexpectedly cut off while Levey danced and he started to cry about letting the audience down. I was surprised to find myself willing the crewmember behind the sound board to press play again, to cheer Levey up.
Levey said he wanted to bare all for the audience.
“I have very intentionally taken every measure possible to make myself extremely vulnerable,” he said. “I think that level of vulnerability is really the greatest gift a performer can give to an audience.”
Yes, Levey’s gift is a weird one. At very few Cabaret performances does one get the chance to see a play that takes place in the creator’s mind. If you are looking for the standard play experience, or anything remotely resembling a plotline, this is not for you. Levey did not create “Brainsongs” to deliver a story, but to reveal himself to the audience and entertain them along the way.
“I hope that people leave happy,” Levey told me. And if audience members are looking for 45 minutes of offbeat simplicity, then there’s a good chance they will.