"...the music is quite rousing and satisfying - very intelligent, multi-dynamic prog-rock mixed with pop-folk - with tremendous musicians and singers adding brilliant coloration...the interactive puppets turn this story into a deeper fairy tale of contemplation and celebration. As they wander through the audience, we all become part of the dream. It's a very ambitious project that almost achieves a transcendent quality." - Review of Over the Line from The Noise Magazine, July/August 2012
Over The Line
A high concept / low budget rock & roll meditation on modern idealogies of freedom, propaganda, thought control and breaking free by going within. Story and music written by Brian O'Connell.
In the hip, diverse, and gentrifying Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain lives a young man named Sleepy Doormat. He's independent, artistic, well educated, and liberal. He understands that the status quo is wrong, unjust, and that it only favors those in power. But he has never really questioned it on a deep level. He believes that things are just the way they are and one person cannot really change anything. While Sleepy may be "free" he is still tied by the ideological constrictions that have been imposed on him since youth. He has been conditioned by the institutions of school, church, and community opinion.
After the band plays the intro music (Overture) the Narrator appears and addresses the audience. He makes an impassioned statement that we are living in a crisis. (Inside The Lines). He invites the audience to take a look at the world today through the lens of Sleepy Doormat, who is then shown sitting and playing video games. The Narrator takes the audience back in time to observe Sleepy's schooling, religious education, and the attitudes of his family/community. (History pt 1 -> Chosen People -> History Pt 2).
Fast forward to adulthood. One day on his way home from work Sleepy is confronted by a radical activist selling a leftist paper on the street. The activist tries his best to tell Sleepy about the great crisis that is happening (Politicians Lie). While Sleepy identifies with much of what this radical person tells him, he ultimately rejects it as out of hand, crazy, and cultish.
Sleepy goes home and engages in his favorite activity - mass consumption of lies through an orgy of media consumption and he falls asleep (Lie To Me -> Remote Control), and enters the dream world. In his dream a series of archetypal female characters appear to him (Into The Underworld). They guide him through a series of meditations on core issues such as good & evil (Saints & Sinners), subject & object, and the unconscious world (Out Of The Underworld -> BetweenThe Lines). He wakes up with a fresh perspective and vows to sort out his inner emotional world and his relation to the world around him (Sort It Out), the audience is invited to come up and dance with all of the characters from the show in a celebratory bacchanale finish to the show.
The audience is led through the story by the Narrator. Most of the story is told through the 13 songs that are performed by the onstage band. There are also some lines and acting between songs. The acting between songs is acted out by people in large puppet masks (ala Bread n' Puppet Theater) and costumes on the floor in front of the stage while the singers in the band recite the lines in the mics.
By vicariously experiencing the childhood indoctrination of Sleepy, observing his place in the present day world, and by traveling with him into the dream world, the audience will confront some of their own emotional/intellectual positions regarding how free we really are in our thinking, speech, and activities.