Adam Sultan

In marking the future deaths of local theatre artists, Physical Plant celebrates their community today

Adam Sultan

Adam Sultan

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd., www.physicalplant.org
Through April 19
Running time: 1 hr.

If you're in the theatre community of Austin, Texas, you are, to one ex- tent or another, in this play. And you're probably going to die – in this play.

Of course, you're going to die outside of the play, too, eventually – and that's what Physical Plant Theater's Adam Sultan is about. Or, rather, it's about a man trying to find something still worth living for as he ages, and his friends – his beloved wife among them – die off one by one by two by three as the years go by. Adam Sultan is that man, that character whose life we witness here, and he's based on and played by the real-life Adam Sultan.

This thing is about as inside-baseball as a local play can get, with many in the audience among those whose names and causes and times of death are voiced throughout the course of the narrative. This play celebrates the relationships that grow and change between people who make theatre and commit art, and it is itself an example of those relationships – which is acknowledged at the end of the play. But we're not there yet, we're still at the beginning, even though both that beginning and the end are set against a portion of the front of Salvage Vanguard Theater, reproduced at full scale and looking very like the SVT you just entered. And then that faux-front is divided and carried away, and the play begins.

Look: There's the married couple, Karen and Adam Sultan, standing side by side in their small home, being aged by a team of masked and black-clad stagehands, their clothes changing, their bodies shifting, decades tumbling by as the names of newly dead friends are announced one after another.

Look: Adam's collecting mementos of his deceased loved ones, personal objects which he consigns to jars. He's grown obsessed with this task, has created a device to ease the process, and the jars are beginning to crowd the shelves of his house as surely as accruing sorrows are crowding his memory.

Look: There's a puppet of Adam Sultan entering the house, confusing and unnerving the flesh-based Adam. The puppet's brought to life by those same stagehands-in-black who were manipulating the married Sultans through time; behind those masks, the puppeteers are members of Trouble Puppet Theater Company, so, yes, the movement of this articulated faux-Adam is astonishing.

Look: Ellie McBride is excellent as the elderly Adam's alcoholic nurse, Linda. The living Noel Gaulin is perfectly cast as the dying Noel Gaulin. Kelli Bland is as delightful as ever, playing Kelli Bland. The lighting, the sound, the set, the costumes, the – ah, Jesus. This is supposed to be a review about a play that's about the Austin theatre community, produced and performed by people in that community, and your reviewer happens to be among those people, and I hope you don't mind but I'm going to go get a Kleenex because thinking about this fucking thing has the tears running down my cheeks and eroding most of what passes for critical objectivity.

  • More of the Story

  • Terminal Stage

    With 'Adam Sultan,' playwright Steve Moore again reflects on friendship and mortality in Austin

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Adam Sultan
Austin Playwright’s Final Play Might Have Died With Him, but a Community Joined Together to Ensure Its Survival
Austin Playwright’s Final Play Might Have Died With Him, but a Community Joined Together to Ensure Its Survival
Saving Jason Tremblay’s Gretel! The Musical

Robert Faires, Jan. 4, 2019

Fast Forward Austin <i>Does</i> Compute
Fast Forward Austin Does Compute
New-music champions science the shit out of its upcoming concert with The Difference Engine

Robert Faires, Sept. 21, 2018

More Austin theatre
Examining the Sins and Virtues of Hypermasculine Theatre
Examining the Sins and Virtues of Hypermasculine Theatre
When is violence in theatre too much?

Shanon Weaver, Dec. 9, 2016

Making Room to Play
Making Room to Play
Create Space Austin kicks off the drive to secure more performing venues in the city

Elizabeth Cobbe, April 15, 2016

More Arts Reviews
Dance Repertory Theatre's <i>Fortitude</i>
Dance Repertory Theatre's Fortitude
In this spring concert, a profound and moving tribute to a missing member of the Theatre & Dance Department community

Robert Faires, March 22, 2019

"Stella Alesi: Journeying" at Prizer Arts & Letters
The artist extends her protean skills toward the bold and minimal

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 22, 2019

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
What If the Marx Brothers Got Around to Making That Movie With Salvador Dalí?
Josh Frank brings the legendary unproduced movie to printed life

March 22, 2019

SXSW Virtual Cinema: <i>Eleven Eleven</i>
SXSW Virtual Cinema: Eleven Eleven
Are they gonna make it to the ship or, more likely, die?

March 14, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Adam Sultan, Austin theatre, Physical Plant Theater, Trouble Puppet Theater Company, Ellie McBride, Noel Gaulin, Kelli Bland

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle