nytheatre.com review by Terri Galvin
British author Arthur Koestler asserted
that "true creativity often starts where language ends," thus revealing
the writer's frequent frustration with his very means of expression.
Although the program notes suggest that Jennifer Weber, the creator of
Heroin(e), does not shrink from articulate verbal description,
she wisely omits language from her compelling onstage exploration of
addiction, desire, and artistic passion. Never attempting anything as
literal—and potentially limiting—as narrative, she offers instead raw,
rocket-fueled choreography externalizing the range of emotion provoked
by human need.
August 15, 2002
The piece opens with a striking woman in diaphanous clothing beckoning fluidly to another figure who slowly, irresistibly approaches. Be she Muse or drug, her quietly hypnotic, mesmerizing lure belies the explosion of raucous club-culture cacophony to follow. Suddenly, six dancers, suitably attired by Cat Malik in ripped tank tops and low-slung cargo pants, and accompanied by the vibrant house stylings of DJ Professor Rockwell, propel themselves onstage. Terpsichore goes techno, and we are helplessly swept along in the rush.
It is a credit to this talented, athletic cast that their physical and emotional commitment never flags. Fiercely, relentlessly immersed in each moment of hip-hop nirvana or agony, they move joyously and defiantly through spasmodic rhythms, refusing to be upstaged by the pounding insistence of the DJ's disjointed beat. Even subdued passages are elegantly suffused with simmering, contained energy, poised precipitously to erupt. Their efforts are ably complemented by notable visual touches. Lighting by Erik C. Bruce and Allegra Riggio is consistently effective, but its absence is stunning when swirling colored lights are held by dancers who invisibly, but no less passionately, cavort in sooty blackness. In the memorable final sequence, glistening, back-lit droplets seem themselves to be choreographed as they soar from dancers' water-soaked hair and clothing.
Heroin(e) is not for the literal. It is a visual and aural phenomenon that forces us to venture where "language ends"—an expressive, if abstract, journey that even the most verbally inclined shouldn't regret taking.