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Flash Review, 5-22:
Love, Betrayal, & Bowling
Cast Gives Hultman Premiere the 'Trophy'
By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000 Susan Yung
Danspace Project's City/Dans
presented Irene Hultman's new work,"Love, Betrayal and a Bowling
Trophy" at St. Mark's Church over the weekend. Seen Friday,
the evening-length piece displayed wonderful performances by Hultman's
multi-talented cast (Colin Gee, Andrew Robinson, Gabrielle Mallone
and Lisa Ostberg), who danced and acted with tremendous enthusiasm
and wit. The accompanying soundtrack (David Linton is credited as
music consultant and sound operator), as significant as a fifth
cast member, ricochets between operatic arias and duets and familiar
The program cites initial
inspiration for the piece as Don Juan and Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto
for Mozart's opera, "Don Giovanni," as well as other classic
characterizations of Don Juan, but the frenetic pace of the performance
and the sometimes inaudible recitation of lines subsumed by the
music led me to simply savor the experience rather than attempt
to explicate the texts used. The performers pounced on the ample
physical expression called for, luxuriating in every gesture and
phrase and animating the recurring themes of pride, seduction and
valor. The women portrayed with relish gender stereotypes, flaunting
their bodies like weapons in a war of roses.
With less accomplished
performers, the impact of the piece surely would have suffered.
Gee, a trained actor skilled in physical expression, served as the
locus of the work, regularly offering up lines, monologues and non-sequiturs.
Not to be outdone, Robinson talked while trotting in circles with
Gee on his back. In a trio with the two men, Malone took terrific
kinetic risks and showed a daring that approaches hip-hop, snapping
her legs like bow strings and dropping to the floor in a breath.
Ostberg has a generous sense of humor and played the vamp with a
concentrated, convincing energy.
A danger of using operatic
music as Hultman does is that it can be worn like an emotional cloak;
merely donning it imparts a specific pathos which is just as quickly
shed. On the other hand, the use of pop songs has a similar hotbutton
effect (note the frequent use of pop tunes in current advertising
to paint an immediate sentiment), instantly evoking the summers
of one's youth ("Time of the Season") or the brittle machismo
and inherent gender-casting of Frank Sinatra ("My Way").
The use of partial songs in "Love, Betrayal..." also provides
for a denial of closure, a blunt discontinuity that is unsettling.
But on the whole, the strong performers and Hultman's sense of humor
kept the pot boiling. Lighting design was by Kathy Kaufmann; visual
consultant was John Monti.
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