nytheatre.com review by Saviana Stanescu
August 15, 2004
Barbara King, a graduate from NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing, creates exciting dance-theatre work that revolves around women, without having a heavy activist or feminist edge. Last year in FringeNYC, she conceived and choreographed a brilliant satire called Maiden America, mocking the feminine desire for clothes, make up, and rich husbands.
Rapt Inside, her new one-woman-show, is more text-based than previous performances, which might be why I found it less successful. The script is a collage of excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s sonnets, Alice in Wonderland, Drinking: A Love Story, “I Am Woman,” The Divine Comedy, The Slovenian National Anthem, “Jet Blue Airways,” and other sources. Having so many words to deliver, King focuses less on her body expression, which is a shame as she is a skilled and gracious dancer/performer.
A dramaturg or a playwright might have helped to give some unity and coherence to a script that has some good moments as well as some confusing and pretentious ones. It is very nice that we get to hear King speaking French, Italian, Slovenian, etc., but I am not sure how relevant that is to the show. OK, it might be that she wants to suggest the universal nature of women with broken hearts and identity issues. That is a powerful message that could have been stronger articulated.
The most touching and authentic moment of the show is the autobiographical one, where King tells the story of her Slovenian mother and the trip she took her children on in 1991, when the former Yugoslavia was still torn apart by the ethnic war’s psychological and material damage. Sequences in which King plays a stewardess with a dark sense of humor are funny; but other vignettes seem quite unnecessary to me, making Rapt Inside feel more like an audition/school exercise than a well-conceived performance.
In any case, King is certainly a talented and inventive performer whose work surprises and incites. A name to be looked for in the downtown performance scene.