nytheatre.com review by Nicole Higgins
June 27, 2009
I was lucky enough to catch the Xoregos Performing Company on the lawn in front of Central Park's Delacorte Theater. The sun was setting on a lovely day and seeing the Brief Shorts presented by the company was just the thing to begin a fine evening. They will be all over Manhattan and Queens in libraries and in parks through July 20th, so bring a picnic and even the kids. It's just the thing to fill an hour of your summer evening (or afternoon) with a bit of culture, color, and fun.
Brief Shorts is a free one-hour long program of four one-acts—How the Cookie Crumbles by Ade Ademola, ShadowFall by Rick Foster, Shipwrecked by Adam Karr, and Maid to Marry by Eugene Ionesco—with an opening dance/movement piece choreographed to the poetry of Curtis Zahn. Also included in the program is a tribute to the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe.
Daniel Broadhurst's ringing, unstrained voice serves to open the entire show as reader of "Zahn Street," a piece that introduces the entire cast as dancers. This piece ends with a memorably amusing poem called "The Semantics of Intercourse," which has the excellent Carlita V. Ector and Joshua Warr dance a troubled comic love mismatch to the fine pacing of the recitation.
When I saw the notice for the program a few weeks ago my curiosity was piqued seeing Ionesco and Edgar Allen Poe on the same bill. Who knew these two could work so well together? Shela Xoregos, director and choreographer, that's who. The program is a curious blend of gothic darkness, delivered with great intensity by Joshua War in ShadowFall, and the deceptively light absurdity of "Zahn Street" and Shipwrecked. The latter is a premiere and literally takes off as the couple Tanara and Jeanne, played by Ralph Coppola and Tracy Espiritu, begin a truly moving dance that had couples nearby reaching for each other's hands and drawing each other closer. This emotion was aided no doubt by the lovely composition from James Barry who was commissioned to write music for this piece.
A poetry recitation in the park at sunset just made me want more. The poem "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe is recited by Omar Cruz after a very brief lecture on Poe's career. I was only disappointed that the last line wasn't left to linger a beat. But the pace of the performance as a whole is spot-on for a public park. The pieces are woven together seamlessly using movement and props. Outdoor performances like these are like busking: you know you are a success if people stay and listen when there are other diversions to distract them. In general, this truly wonderful cast of performers has the chops to grab the attention of everyone in their immediate area, and many having come upon the company accidentally stayed for the entire program, which is a testament to their energy and skill.
The final piece, Maid to Marry, co-directed by David Ostwald and Shela Xoregos, is a furious combination of verbal and physical gymnastics well-performed by Daniel Broadhurst and Naomi McDougall Jones. They were truly fun to watch.