nytheatre.com review by J Grawemeyer
The kind of work I saw in Body Maps
is the reason I see theatre rather than movies. Theatre, whether
kitchen-sink drama or performance art, communicates the human experience
through performer to audience, helping us figure out who we are and what
life is supposed to be about. Body Maps does not answer those
questions, but rather presents situations that speak to the search. The
piece, anything but kitchen-sink drama, is a totally moving experience.
August 15, 2002
I was waiting for the lights to dim so the performers could set themselves on stage before I noticed they had been there the entire time, unmoving, cloaked—no, draped!—in white gauze, attached to another performer, a soprano floating in the back corner. The performers-as-set is beautifully disturbing—a giant, perfect cobweb. The soprano's voice fills the room as the performers birth themselves from her. Opposite, the narrator, cloaked in black, separates herself from another performer in red. Once both tasks are accomplished, the lights dim, and the real show begins—dance pieces interspersed with storytelling and spoken word by the narrator and the haunting voice of the soprano. The scenes center around a social worker's interviewees, three troubled souls who feel "E-motions" that are manifested through the dancers, whose strong, graceful bodies remind me how beautiful the human body is.
The best scene is that of the dancer who portrays a child with an alcoholic father. Dressed in a blue tutu, attached to a chair, she dances with the chair as the narrator communicates the story. The dancer is gifted and the scene feels more specific than the others, which are generalized and ask the audience to assume more.
Body Maps is wonderful except for the television. Why do companies, even those comprised of dancers who perform on a symbolic, ethereal plane in a world of E-motion, insist on using a TV., which is distracting and whose presence is not justified in any way? We never forget it is a television and the actors never react to it in a way that communicates to the audience why it is there, detracting from their otherwise oh-so-admirable work.