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Flash Review 3, 1-25:
Oh, Lost Ending
Imago's Multi-Media Tapestry Lacks a Thread
By Karinne Keithley
Copyright 2001 Karinne Keithley
PORTLAND, Oregon -- In
Imago's Theater's "Oh Lost Weekend," presented last weekend at its
home theater space, Carol Triffle, as Vickie Brown of Goshen, New
York (accused of and committed for impersonating Queen Victoria
of England), makes a chain-link fenced box her stage and asylum.
A threadbare plot involving her subsequent trial for treason binds
together a series of scenes that constitute essentially one long
monologue. More than a play about identity delirium, madness or
either Victoria, "Oh Lost Weekend" is a series of images and scenes
which showcase Triffle.
"Oh Lost Weekend" achieves
some grace when images are derived from the set. When Triffle descends
from the flies in a white psych-ward shift, in a calm, wide stance
on a table precariously swinging from side to side, she looks as
if she is the calm bliss of delirium (imagine Elvis on quaaludes
consorting with Raphael's cherubs). As her table gets closer to
the ground, she swings in front of Laura Lou Pape McCarthy, who
is standing on a tall stool, her white nurse's uniform wrapped in
a coat that is almost bridal, with a long white train. McCarthy
deftly steps onto the platform. As Triffle lies down, McCarthy,
serenely self-possessed, sings to her, "Don't slide off your bed,
or you could lose your head."
Later, when the plot
concludes with a trial by water, Triffle is forced by two menacing
figures into a tank of water. Whereas the formally "choreographed"
segments of the piece don't seem to arise from a physical logic,
but rather some idea of a dance vocabulary with which only McCarthy
seems truly comfortable, the movement that is more task-oriented
(set-specific one could say) is often beautiful. In the water tank
scene the movement vocabulary is made up of small, strange dog paddles,
and backward and forward flips. Pieces of clothing are dropped one
by one into the tank. Watching Triffle dress underwater -- in a
slip, a skirt, a respectable top and jacket, and heels, until she
is floating in the water, business suit billowing -- is one of the
most strange and lovely images I have seen.
The piece is a confluence
of media that typifies a certain style of physical theater which
combines mime, dance, clowning, music, writing, and set design,
where the use of each element is fluid enough to take on the logic
of another. What this has the potential to produce is a kind of
theatrical image which is both poetic and concrete: Images which
nail something in several different dimensions, and which aren't
exactly abstract, and yet not exactly literal. The moments in "Oh
Lost Weekend" when this happened were stunning: the song on the
swinging table, the scene in the water tank, lines like "I want
my Albert back" couched in the middle of an odd unison sequence
of lying down and sitting up.
This collision of media
was also the production's weakness, however, as it became clear
that a mastery of each element was secondary to the conception as
a whole. Much of the show's unevenness resulted from this problem
-- unsophisticated dances awkwardly executed, monologues lacking
a commanding guide of tension and information, all delivered in
an unconvincing warble. I suspected that Triffle, who wrote, designed,
directed and starred in the piece tried to do too much.
Oh, lost ending. Unfortunately,
Triffle emerged from the water tank and delivered one more repetition
of a tired monologue on her slip into a weekend's madness (How many
times can she tell us, "I lost the weekend. I never found it.")
Going on, she concludes that life is just a cigarette and another
drink. What? She toasts the audience and the lights go out.
Karinne Keithley is a
New York-based dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
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