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Flash Review 3, 1-22: Soles and Soul
Lost and Found in Cuba

By Faith Pilger
Copyright 2001 Faith Pilger

Thaddeus Phillips will be sharing his diversity, originality and tirelessness with New York City for three more weeks in his solo visual object theater rhythm tap gig, "Lost Soles," at La Ma Ma e.t.c. Mr. Phillips tells an interesting story inspired in part by the life of one of his teachers and mentors, Cuban tapper Jimmy Payne. While Mr. Phillips is a ferocious tapper himself, he is a quieter, cooler actor and in this show he takes his sweet time, luring the audience into his world of oddball characters.

Last night as I settled at a cocktail table at La Ma Ma e.t.c. (Experimental Theater Club) I was slowly transported from N.Y.C. to Wyoming to Chicago and eventually to Havana, Cuba. Perhaps on Sunday drinks are not served in this theater club, but I think their aphrodesia would have been welcome. It took a little bit of time to build momentum, but once we landed in Cuba, the atmosphere had grown much warmer and the final scenes were truly magical.

Thaddeus Phillips traveled to Havana personally and shot some video which opens, closes and weaves in, out and around the storyline. I think the video could have been used more sparingly throughout, particularly since Mr. Phillips was responsible for its remote control. In addition, he took on the role of lighting technician, turning off and on the lights as he disappeared/reappeared on the multi-surface stage (designed by a guy named "Matt") -- a good idea, though difficult to execute seamlessly.

Speaking of which, the set was apparently inspired by Cuban streets, lampposts and interiors, which explains its funky (in the original sense) minimalism. The most effective moments in the performance made use of original ideas while utilizing the unique stage design: the waiter who can't help but tap (his feet) on the plates and glasses (placed in front of audience members closest to the stage) ... and my personal favorite scene, involving a CIA agent video and fans suctioning documents to the walls.

Thaddeus Phillips collaborates with Tea Alagic and Pamela Riley to create this very original production which will be running Thursdays through Saturdays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m., through February 11. Mr. Phillips is also an accomplished puppeteer, co-artistic director of Stateless, a new theater company, and has been recognized for his role in Robert Lepage's "The Geometry of Miracles."

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