The Bushwhack Series
nytheatre.com review by Jack Hanley
May 14, 2009
Some fierce and frolicking minds have come together in The Bushwhack Series to take us on an experimental escapade of visionary artistry. There's a breathless, epic quality to the evening as each of the performances and films transform the space into a unique landscape of movement, form, and light. The curators at The Bushwick Starr deserve high praise for bringing together so many gifted artists.
Ryan Bronz's film The Newark Trilogy is presented intermittently between live performances. From Part I of the film to Part III, he quietly moves from pensive imagery of a building demolition, to a poetic meditation of urban solitude, and finally to a tender, if isolated, moment of romance in a small apartment. Bronz's authentic voice succeeds with an eye for verite; countered with affecting symbolism. And never do his films jar the theatrical milieu; on the contrary they aesthetically mesh well and engage with the live acts.
Julia May Jonas's company Nellie Tinder stages scenes in "For Artists Only" that have a sort of filmic quality. Or perhaps more accurately, they invoke a perspective of watching people interact through a window. Her piece is staged in a narrow area along the upstage wall. The scenes move quickly, each tightly framed by moving black curtains. It's a wonderfully unique device that arouses our voyeuristic impulses. What we're peeking at are two roommates in a small apartment struggling to cope with each other's idiosyncrasies. They walk in and out of frame (just like those people across the street from me). It's a tense piece; the two women always seem to be on the verge of an explosive fight. And when things got bloody, I was looking for my binoculars.
31 Down's "Submitted to Pfizer for approval," the most stimulating piece of the series, refuses to be simply watched, but aggressively pulls us from our corporeal selves to within its amplified narrative. The ingenious lighting design by Jon Luton and Ryan Holsopple carves its way through the darkness revealing imagery and movement that still lingers around my mind's eye. The sci-fi story is about an eye-drop that causes x-ray vision and what destructive consequences that would have on our sense of a contained identity. It's a harrowing and philosophically fascinating tale, aided by the ominous sound design of Holsopple and the amorphous scenic design of Andreea Mincic.
Far from harrowing but equally arresting is the opening number. It's the exuberant, technically masterful, and straight out hilarious work of the Lollo Birgitta Duo Trapeze. Lollo and Cecilia Grimm create visually stunning physical sculptures wrapped around the trapeze. Salacious and witty, their forms physicalize character and relationship with astonishing technique. Bursts of applause were many, and every one deserved.
The final item of the evening, presented by Jake Hooker + Grammar School, is a delightfully bizarre and quirky piece with a wildly inventive set and an utterly fresh take on video design by Asta Bennie Hostetter and Keith Skretch. The story itself, a sort apocalyptic tale set in a saloon, felt too compressed (or rushed perhaps) but the jovial direction of Jake Hooker, the talented and charismatic cast, and the many design elements make it an appealing and interesting work in progress.