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Flash Review 2, 11-20:
Big Dance Theater from Big Dance Theater
By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2000 Maura Nguyen Donohue
I have to admit this
is a difficult assignment for me. I'm usually a prodigious note
taker and often begin composing parts of the review during the show,
but Saturday night at the Performing Garage I was privy to a classic
theater-going experience. I was transported, taken on a journey
and so thoroughly engaged in the developing action that I have little
to refer back to except my overwhelming sense of satisfaction at
an evening very well spent with Big Dance Theater.
True to my word to a
certain downtown producer I won't mention a show I saw recently,
as a cast member's friend and not a dance insider, that had unsuccessfully
attempted to combine the same elements that Big Dance Theater's
Obie- and Bessie-winning "Another Telepathic Thing" does. They're
both working with dance, theater, song and narrative but one landscape
is intensely inhabited with lively presence and the other was decidedly
deadening. Though "Another Telepathic Thing" is directed by Paul
Lazar and Annie-B. Parson, the company is credited with the creation
of the work. Cast members designed the costumes, composed the songs,
and contributed to the script and choreography. Artistic ownership,
a strong sense of ensemble and powerful presence are the obvious
fruits of such a collaborative process. As my companion to both
recent theatrical events pointed out, it's the difference between
something that exists solely in the head of its director and work
that lives in its performers. It also reflects the wealth of experience
and knowledge that Parson and Lazar share. These are creative artists
who are secure enough in their understanding of form to play with
it instead of imitating someone else's idea of contemporary theater.
The cast is phenomenal,
blending Mark Twain's dark short story "The Mysterious Stranger"
with authentic, illicit audio tapes taken from movie auditions.
Stacy Dawson, looking like a sedated Amanda Plummer in her blond
wig, brings the Angel Satan to light with exquisite composure and
refinement. Each of her deceptions are affected without malice but
with a cold understanding of the bitter truth, or rather the truly
false beliefs we hapless humans maintain in a search for happiness.
Molly Hickok's overzealous casting director and trial judge are
studies in precision and optimum energy output. Tymberly Canale
has a way of insinuating impending mischief as she dances and at
the same time sweet innocence as Marget, the niece to Paul Lazar's
poor, troubled Father Peter. Cynthia Hopkins's narration and songs
are bewitching and David Neumann's easy, sleazy Astrologer belongs
in a Vegas revue.
The work is ripe with
tightly realized moments and vivid visual images. Joanne Howard
and Sky Lanigan's scenic elements evoke the mystical environs of
the tale, and the always illuminating Jay Ryan adds to the winning
combination with his elegant lighting design. "Another Telepathic
Thing," co-presented by Dance Theater Workshop, runs through December
9, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with no show on Thanksgiving.
For more info, call (212) 966-3651.
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