nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman
August 11, 2006
According to the show description in the FringeNYC program guide, PLACES, produced by the Theatre of Light Magapar from Lubaczow, Poland, is about "the search of one's PLACE in life, STRUGGLE for one's dreams underlining the great role of LOVE. We can enjoy, suffer and find LIGHT inside us."
Even having read this description, I had a lot of trouble finding a foothold in this show, which uses light, music, costumes, and movement to create a unique 30 minutes of theatre. I can, however, tell you what I saw and what I think.
The show is set on an almost-bare stage with only a few props, including hoops and boxes covered in shiny cloth. The six performers enter through the audience in the dark carrying small, red lights, cupped in their hands as though they are precious. Perhaps these red lights symbolize the light within us, referenced in the show description. The performers seem to offer up the lights to the audience, placing them way downstage. The costumes are white and flowing, creating a mood of lightness. The performers quickly establish some conventions of the piece: They freeze when the music stops, and they have limited contact with one another, though they do work as a unit. The lights remain dim and flash on and off, though not rapidly. The music, which ranges from piano to orchestra, helps provide transitions between sections and moods.
Under Barbara Thieme's direction, the six performers fill up the fairly large stage, and they use different levels, sometimes crouching or falling to the floor, sometimes elevated on a platform, like an authority figure. In one of the more accessible sections, two performers discover art. We observe one performer with a sculpture and a violin, and another actor swirling a very colorful piece of fabric in the air. The fabric could be a butterfly or a stroke of paint. In another section, the theme from Romeo and Juliet accents the discovery of love by two performers.
Overall, the movement is interesting in this piece, and it's worth seeing for the audience member in search of something different who wants to enjoy the challenge of abstract theatre.