THE BEGINNING OF LIFE
nytheatre.com review by Alyssa Simon
A young person embarks on a quest.
Along the way he encounters archetypal/allegorical characters that
either guide him or tempt him off the path. In the end, he discovers
that the answer was within him all along. No, it’s not a reworking of
The Wizard of Oz. It’s The Beginning of Life, a musical play
written and performed by Andre Diniz, directed by Michelle Strier, and
choreographed by Melissa Diniz.
August 15, 2002
Andre Diniz plays a young man, a circus ringmaster, an old Gypsy woman, a Native American dancing girl, the Beast, a boatman, a hippie, a prostitute, a lawyer, a ballerina with broken feet, and a mirror. He manages to do so with minimal costume and prop changes. These characters all have something to teach this young everyman through song and dance.
It’s difficult to switch characters at the change of a hat. That is why I would have liked to see Diniz take his time. He shouldn’t feel that he must impress the audience with how quickly he can change his voice, posture, and gestures to become someone new. Part of the fun is watching the character emerge. Slower transitions, I feel, would also allow development of more complexity in the characters.
The show’s strengths are the original music by the group Angel Autopsy and the song lyrics. The choreography is not original and that is a hindrance to believing that movement is coming out of the characters’ needs for truthful self-expression. This is a very personal piece of work created by someone asking all the big questions about life, God’s mercy, and love. Those questions certainly can’t be worked out in ninety minutes on the stage and I don’t think the writer needs to take on that responsibility. To ask the questions is much more engaging and theatrically interesting than watching someone who thinks he has the answers.