When attending any of the visiting productions in the Walker Art Center’s annual “Out There” festival, it’s ideal to preserve in thoughts that the Walker is a contemporary art museum, and that extends to the performances it presents. There is usually a lot of abstraction involved, and the works typically inspire the type of “What does it say to you?” conversations that you may have in front of a non-representational painting.
So it came as something of a surprise when this year’s “Out There” opened with one thing pretty much disarmingly straightforward. Playwright/director Richard Maxwell took the stage, sat at a table, and study from a journal entry he wrote in his father’s last days in rural Minnesota, detailing their final conversations and staring unblinkingly at the reality of a death with an admirable balance of poetry and plain speech.
It appears as if “The Evening” — Maxwell’s