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 over 36 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
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

How Not to Be an Artist
How Not to Be an Artist
Advice on how to be an artist

Adam Sultan, March 20, 2015

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
Street Corner Arts' <i>We Are Proud to Present ...</i>
Street Corner Arts' We Are Proud to Present ...
This production is more than exceptional theatre; it asks thought-provoking questions about authority, perspective, and intention

Elizabeth Cobbe, Dec. 7, 2018

line upon line percussion's <i>The city wears a slouch hat</i>
line upon line percussion's The city wears a slouch hat
John Cage and Kenneth Patchen's experimental radio play proved an ideal vehicle for the creative daredevils of line upon line and the Rude Mechs to revive together

Robert Faires, Dec. 7, 2018

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Book This Gift, Graphic Self-Chronicler
Book This Gift, Graphic Self-Chronicler
Because your life’s narrative structure deserves some good paneling

Dec. 6, 2018

Books to Read and Wrap for the Holidays
Garlandia
One family man’s fight to survive divine assaults and a community turned against him becomes a rollicking, rambling epic, superbly rendered

Dec. 7, 2018

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