On Sunday, May 2nd, over 200 people showed up at Union Station to see two performances of what was essentially a traveling interactive performance piece called Meet Me @ Metro.
I was one of those people – and simply put, Meet Me @ Metro was a delightful surprise.
I’m not really a theatergoer and, in fact, I tend to cringe at the idea of “performance art.” Couple that with that fact that I was skeptical that Metro could pull off such an event – even if it was mediocre – you can imagine how special this event must have been for me to walk away with a big grin on my face.
But that’s exactly what I did.
Even though I had been given a summary of the artistic intentions of Meet Me @ Metro a few weeks prior, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what the overall performance was “about” even though there were recurring characters and themes. What it lacked in cohesive narrative it made up for in sheer atmosphere and spirit, and given the context of the performance I think that was for the best. A performance with a stage that literally spans miles across a living, breathing city and that rides along with its audience – whether they were there for the show or not – on public transportation really doesn’t need to have a story in the traditional sense.
The story in this case was the journey – a trip from Union Station to Watts on Metro’s subway and light rail – and the performances along the way served as fantastic plot points. The costumes, music and acting all complimented the surroundings – some epic like Union Station, others quaint like a small taco stand just off the Vernon Blue Line Station. These are sets that the best art director could only hope to build, so authentic and lived in you’d swear they were real.
Of course, they are real and that’s what made the performance so unique. A casual passerby would become both a background actor and an audience member. At one point on the Blue Line, one of the route’s famous vendors boarded the train hawking his wares and it was impossible to tell whether he was real or just another actor – certainly his booming monologue encouraging riders to purchase the light up rings he was selling was no less zany and whimsical that the luchador sliding across the floor of Union Station or the mumbling clown girl ranting about “cars! cars! cars!” at Pershing Square.
The characters, whether real or imagined made Meet Me @ Metro a Fellini-esque spectacle that transformed Los Angeles and its burgeoning transit system into a nostalgia tinged fantasy land where floating bubbles and accordion melodies follow you everywhere.
I find it rare in L.A. to feel that “magic” one often feels in other great cities – likely because the denizens of L.A. are often sequestered in their metal boxes that offer little magic save for their ability to create smog – but that L.A. haze did become magical as the sun set over the last performance at the foot of the Watts Towers. The diffused light melded perfectly with the nostalgic sing-along melody and as I watched the entire audience dance with the performers I couldn’t help but smile.
Here are some external reviews of the event, and the overall consensus is “let’s do it again”: