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Review, 9-10: Happy Hour and Blue
Getting Wet with Clare Byrne
By Catey Ott
Copyright 2002 Catey Ott
NEW YORK -- What better
to do on a late Friday afternoon than have a shot of Clare Byrne?
The closing matinee of "Wet Blue and Friends" played on August 23
at University Settlement as part of the NY Fringe Festival 2002.
The venue was filled with a warm and engaged audience of about 35.
The stage contained a corner back-drop of hanging dresses, and a
floor full of inner-tubes, three lawn chairs, and, eventually, an
inflatable swimming pool.
In this imaginary world
lives Wet Blue -- gender-less, sweet, tender, vulnerable and lonely.
This creature (played by Byrne) shares a wide emotional spectrum
with facial expression, both slow and quick gesture, and an easy
flow of movement. Wet Blue captures the hearts of the audience immediately,
so the rest of the journey is a pleasure to take in.
is successful in covering space with a grounded swingy style that
holds strong technical dance vocabulary and quirky time-suspended
gesture. Her ability to ease from moment to moment of such different
quality is really captivating. Her whole essence takes on the personality
of this imaginary creature as she floats on the journey of life.
The entire music score
consists of Aretha Franklin songs from the "Jazz to Soul" album.
It is not easy to create a story line on top of music loaded with
passion and lyrics. However, Byrne successfully presents a fantasy
world that glides upon, within and against the songs in a harmonious
way. The lyrics actually compliment the story without overpowering
Wet Blue is accompanied
by three "friends," wonderfully and energetically danced by Donna
Bouthillier, Sarah Carlson, and Theresa Palazzo. These do-bob girls
swirl their hips and tease with smart feet while charming the audience
with wide inviting eyes. Byrne costumes these three in garb that
reflects the mood of Wet Blue: the sad state shows in blue costumes,
and the distressed state in dirty and ripped dresses. When the girls
show up sassy at the end, they support Wet Blue's growing confidence.
A fun cameo appearance
is made by Nicholas Leichter, who enters to splash Wet Blue with
a glass of water. Leichter then joins the gang for a boogie dance.
What a treat!
Wet Blue's counter-part
and love interest is a janitor-type man, danced by Rubin Ortiz.
He is sweet and warm to Wet Blue yet has little emotional investment
in her. They have near encounters of dance and romance, yet at the
end of the day, Wet Blue is still alone. The show closes with Byrne
left in an inner tube, floating mid-stage in the shadows.
Clare Byrne has successfully
created a fantasy that the audience feels and knows, without drama,
lecture, or angst. She brings out the Wet Blue in all of us, and
we are left feeling satisfied with being just ourselves.
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