nytheatre.com review by Lynn Marie Macy
Arsat, presented by The Fluid Motion Theatre, does not live up to
its tempting and intriguing offer of a staged version of Joseph Conrad’s
short story "The Lagoon." Set in 1898 and incorporating movement,
traditional Malaysian dance, and Japanese Taiko drumming, the experience
is not unlike the anticipation of a delicious meal—and only getting one
little bite. Co-directors Christine Simpson and Jesse Jou have put
together what amounts to an outline of a theatrical event which holds a
great deal of promise if the characters were more fully developed, the
story fleshed out, and more imagination and creativity were committed to
the many ways dance, movement, and theatrical invention could serve the
plot and propel the story forward.
August 15, 2003
For example, a traditional candle dance is incorporated in the staging—obviously the candles were not lit because there are fire laws, but I imagine part of the beauty of the dance is the movement of light, which could be suggested in a multitude of ways. More thought could also be given to ways to better meld the "realistic" narrative with the more physical aspects of the piece.
A talented and very watchable cast of performers, Pan Bandhu, Jovinna Chan, Eric Hanson, and Kurt Uy, do their best with the material they’ve been given but ultimately we learn very little about their characters. I left the theatre having almost no idea what the relationship is between the play’s two central figures, Arsat and the Englishman Sebastian, other than at one time they were soldiers together. A lack of attention to detail may be the root of the problem: at one point, a photograph is shown described as the "two" of them together, but the picture actually has only one person in it. Possibly the creative team has lost sight of the fact that most people coming to see the play will not have had the prior advantage of reading Conrad’s work. It is my hope that this group will continue to ask themselves questions and find ways to better convey to an audience this story, which has clearly captured their passions.