THE TALE OF RANCOR
nytheatre.com review by Kimberly I. Kefgen
The Tale of Rancor, by the company Blue, Inc., is a triumph of
simple imagination, outrageous creativity, and the solid and committed
work of an ensemble.
August 15, 2003
With some of the flavor (and genius) of neighborhood kids putting on a play in the backyard, this troupe creates the town and townspeople of Rancor, a place where all smells are sinful. With umbrellas, sheets, a few brightly colored pieces of fabric, and what look to be pieces of cardboard covered in felt and cut into random shapes, this troupe of nine Lecoq-trained performers tell the story of Grub, the evil boy with a big nose who is the cause of their current state of smell-lessness. And it is BRILLIANT!
The plot is inventive, but is secondary to the amazing work of this ensemble. The cast functions as one unit, moving effortlessly, not only from scene to scene, but from character to set piece to wind to animal to new character. They create the objects, the sounds, and yes, even the smells of this strange little town. And they’re great while playing the people, too! It would be impossible to single out any one performer, for good or ill, so integrated are each of them into the whole (plus the program gives no indication of who is who). That in itself is a grand achievement and a compliment to all the cast, and I suspect a strong reason for the success of the production.
The piece is "devised" by the company, directed by Peter Bramley and associate directed by Carolyn Cohagan. The directors should be complimented for the unity and the simplicity of the production. Too many times with a physical theatre, ensemble-created piece, you end up with many interesting pictures but a disjointed whole. The vision is clear in this production and executed exquisitely. So many simple but perfect details! I want to clap my hands for the sheer theatrical creativity of it! Hurry and see it if you’re in New York, and if you miss it here, you can catch it in Philadelphia at the end of the month.