August 18, 2011

More Shows

So I know this is probably the least exciting thing to read about on a blog, but I'mna tell you about more shows we saw, since I still have no new pictures to share. I'll be sure to bring my camera when we visit LOCH NESS this weekend (wooooh!) to provide better entertainment.

I did end up getting to see Mission Drift on Elvis week, and as I was there, thanking all things holy that I was able to steal some no-show ticket on the sold-out final night of this completely amazing production, who should come bouncing in on an on-stage projection but the king himself. There was actually entire scene where his "Viva Las Vegas" was parodied, complete with appropriated pelvic thrusts. Just what the doctor ordered.
In addition to this bit of excitement, the show absolutely blew me away. If you're interested in knowing/seeing more about here's some more info:


See...
Review
The TEAM's Website
YouTube Trailer
(at the very least skip to 2:03 and listen to that woman sing...)

It's difficult to communicate just what it was -- one of those reviews said "Tour de Force," and I think that's a good explanation. Like being at a really awesome rock concert that also makes you want to cry a bit... and an important musing on the pitfalls of corporate America. It doesn't just bemoan commercialism, but presents its good sides and its bad -- even going so far as to conjecture the roots of Westward expansion came not out of pure greed, but out of passion. It's marvelous. If you have any opportunity to see the show (I think it will be in NYC eventually) or any other piece by the TEAM, do. 5+ stars.

Mission Drift was a nearly impossible show to follow -- I was sure I wouldn't like anything after that -- but the Kantor-inspired Traumatikon delivered a different kind of energetic jolt. Instead of a clear message it had no message at all -- or left it up to the audience to determine, at least. This show featured actors from the Rose Bruford College in London (hopefully I can see more of them in months to come!) and we actually got to speak with a few of them after the show. They worked very well as an ensemble -- you always knew where the focus was, despite having a cast of 20-30 young adults. Everything was so understated, but so perfectly tight. My favorite moment came when a woman stands up in the middle of a windstorm, and all the actors surrounding her tilt their tables and chairs away with the wind, underscored by sound effects, as another actor fans the woman in focus with a large piece of cardboard. The woman is holding a thin plastic sheet -- like a gigantic garbage sack -- and it's flowing behind her in a miraculous force, merely by the conducted breeze from the cardboard. So cool. Again, difficult to render. One thing I can show you is these creepy-as-shit hands that came out of nowhere in the opening moment of the show:

Scary. 4.5 stars.

Unfortunately, two great shows in two days has to be followed with two awful shows in one day. Masses Man and Und, both viewed on Tuesday, were uncomfortable for me to sit through. I'm not a great critic -- I'm usually so intent on giving performers the benefit of the doubt that I overlook flaws -- or pin them on the design or direction instead (what an actor ego!!) But there was little to save these actors' pitfalls. Masses Man was not only fraught with communication issues, it also did not have an interesting story. Und apparently had an award-winning script, but whatever was award winning about it was poorly reflected in a beautiful but sadly flat and affected (which up to this point I didn't know was simultaneously possible) young actress who liked to scream. Or had a terrible director who told her to scream. I can't really say much more about either of those. 1 star apiece. Perhaps 1.5 for Und, cause of the interesting set and beautiful costume.

Silent was a BOSS-AWESOME physical theatre piece. It was advertised as dance, and I was a little let down by the lack of actual dancing, but the dude was awesome. The best part hands down came when a woman got up to leave and, on her journey out of the theatre, he followed her -- slowly and scarily -- along the side of the stage. Glaring and incorporating a commentary on her departure right into his word-flow. You could tell this guy was well-rehearsed because of how great his improv was. 4 stars.

A Slow Air and Macbeth were the pieces I saw today. A Slow Air was, well, slow -- at least for the first 20 minutes. It consisted of two actors -- an actual brother and sister, which they also played in the piece -- performing 10-ish minute monologues back and forth, unfolding the story of their estrangement over the course of the work. It was an interesting concept, but ultimately boring. Luckily the story-telling was upheld by two capable actors, otherwise I would've fallen asleep. 3 stars. Macbeth was...eh. It was sort of like watching a lot of well-trained actors thrown into a high school version of the play -- complete with a distracting set, a horrendous costume palette, and badly directed blocking. Lady M was weird -- she went for insane off the bat, making her fall that much less sympathetic, and Macbeth spent the majority of the production yelling his head off; save for the moment when his wife's death was announced, at which (I kid you not) he paused for 10 whole seconds and spoke his entire beautiful monologue to a random siward. Eugh. I'm excited to see Julia Sears kick some ass with this next year, since she was pointing out mistakes left and right. Shakespeare saved this show's ass. 2.5 stars.

I managed to get to a few bookstores today -- didn't buy anything though. One of them was stacked celing-to-floor with used books, but didn't have anything I was looking for. The other* was a librarian's dream: well-stocked, well-organized, and easy to navigate. I completely nerded out in the Shakespeare section, then drooled at the Moleskin and Paperblanks journals, then I discovered the textbook section (likely for the U of Edinburgh students). My jaw dropped at the massive collection of Oxford "Very Short Introduction"s (I paused here to page through Dreams, Emotion, Jung, Literature, Psychology, Sexuality, Shakespeare, and even "The Meaning of Life" wishing I had 10 brains to store all the information...) I read about how to teach Macbeth to elementary school students at one shelf and learned why Freud is 100% wrong at another. I watched a high school boy fret over which books were on his summer reading list and listened to a characteristically pretentious British college student explain to his misinformed friends just WHY Checkov was amazing and Carol Carpenter was not. I picked up a psychiatry book and triple diagnosed myself. Why people ever bemoan being alone when there're bookshops in the world I will just never understand!

Alright, guys. I think my flatmates and I are headed to the restaurant below us to help christen their new bar. I have a feeling my contribution is going to consist of a short drink and an early drudge back upstairs, because everyone's falling sick around here and I know how much my body hates to be left out of that fun.

All my best!
-R

*Blackwell's Books, it's called.

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