Dramatic Despair

Meta play evokes savagery in Adobe's Is Life Worth Living?

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, April 5, 2012 

The sleepy Irish town of Inish suddenly bursts with the grotesque. Where hotel clerks and housewives once salivated at the thought of a scandal for the simple fact that they had never witnessed one, the streets are rampaged with suicide pacts, attempted murder and the unearthing of old wounds.

The catalyst for this sea change is the theater. Not a magic theater or a play rooted in dark scriptures—just the idea of theater itself. This is the guiding philosophy behind Lennox Robinson’s Is Life Worth Living?

Constance Constantia and Hector De La Mare have been brought to Inish by John Twohig, owner of a hotel as well as the town’s pavilion, where he has asked the two actors to perform. In an effort to infuse Inish with culture, John has signed a contract with the De La Mare Repertory Company to put on deep, thoughtful and often morose plays through the end of the summer. A sampling of the pair’s lineup: Leo Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness, ultimately about the slaughter of a baby in a cellar; A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, in which a happy marriage unravels with blackmail and betrayal; and Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, wherein a refusal to sell a family farm leads to lost love and forsaken opportunity. It’s an uplifting run.

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Perfect Sense

Seems this sexy sci-fi drama forgot something

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, March 22, 2012

First, humankind loses its sense of smell. The disease comes like a tidal wave, sweeping across the globe but without any known point of origin. Perhaps it’s a pathogen that’s caused this pandemic anosmia, released by terrorists or by a Darwinian mutation. Perhaps it’s a sign of some cosmic expiration date. Whatever the strange phenomenon, the people it’s disabling can’t figure it out, and all the unaffected can do is wait their turns.

Losing your sense of smell is one thing. Never breathing in the aroma of another freshly peeled tangerine or the musk of a lover’s skin is a poignant idea. Although stripping people of their ability to sniff their surroundings may make the world less redolent, humans are adaptable. They move on.

But next comes taste. It disappears from the world’s collective palate. And then it’s sound. Then sight. One by one, the senses are extinguished, ultimately leaving 7 billion bodies with no way of understanding where they are or what the hell they’re doing.

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Down in the Depths

UNM's Eurydice is an otherwordly, fiendish delight

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, March 15, 2012

The mythology surrounding Eurydice and Orpheus is very old, but playwright Sarah Ruhl’s reinterpretation of the classic is modern, colorful and mesmerizing.

The foundations of the tale remain. On Orpheus and Eurydice’s wedding day, the bride dies and is sent to the underworld. Orpheus goes to claim her and bring her back to the land of the living, and in doing so he is given one instruction. He must walk to the upper world trusting that she is behind him, never looking back to reassure himself. Of course, Orpheus can’t help but break this singular condition, thereby losing Eurydice forever. Heartbreak ensues.

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Choreography and Couscous

Global DanceFest's sensory smorgasbord

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, March 8, 2012

You’re in a room with a stranger. Perhaps the person before you is a sculptor. Another time, it’s a medical supply salesman, or an opera singer. Perhaps she’s an astrophysicist.

In each instance, you begin to dance, and as your body winds about, the stranger tells you what she thinks of it and directs you to do more. An architect wants you to “be poetry.” A sommelier asks you to tell her what you smell in a blacked-out bottle of wine, drink it and then respond with motion. One person tells you to have a “real relationship” with an inanimate object—say, a chair.

This is the world in which Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey existed while conducting research for their newest show, Tool Is Loot. Stationed on different continents—Cardona in New York City and Lacey in Paris—they were set up with strangers who were experts in fields other than dance. Each pairing lasted a week, beginning with an “empty solo” by the artist and morphing into a discourse between dancer and stranger.

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Red Hair and Green Gables

Canadian classic is youthful and charming at ALT

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, March 1, 2012

Even if you weren’t a redheaded orphan girl brought up on a farm near the turn of the 20th century, Anne of Green Gables will likely remind you of your childhood—of best friends, the realm of make believe and accidental drunkenness.

In the L.M. Montgomery book and the play it inspired, sister and brother Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert have decided to adopt a boy to work on their farm. Neither of them ever married or had children of their own, and as the candles on their cakes start to multiply, they like the idea of a strong young back around to help chop wood. The two send for the boy from an orphanage, but when Matthew arrives at the train station to pick him up, he discovers a particularly eager and loquacious girl instead. This is Anne Shirley.

Of course, Anne woos austere Marilla and flummoxed Matthew with her wonder, rapid-fire questions and bright-red braids. The rest of the story serves as a window into Anne’s somewhat ordinary yet entertaining life. She goes to school and is at first an outcast, at least until she befriends beautiful Diana Barry. She excels in her studies but then refuses to return to class when she’s singled out by a strict teacher. She nurses a small child back to health. Anne is brave, smart, silly, stubborn and immeasurably starry-eyed, and that’s why people love her, both from within the play and from our seats.

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