23
Aug
12

Loco Maricon Amor


Loco Maricon Amor

Loco Maricon Amor

Metro Arts & The Danger Ensemble

Sue Benner Theatre

17th August – 1st September 2012

Let me go. Let me go. Let me go. Let me GO. Let me GO.

LET ME GO. LET ME GO. LETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGOLETMEGO. LET ME GO.

 

process. exploration. repetition. inspiration. revelation.

 

“I’m an actor. I am Death speaking.”

This show should be your drug of choice this month. See it as often as you can before September 1st. Seriously. You cannot OD on it. Go and go again.

The first point of exhilaration and confrontation is a stark white set, flooded with bright white light (and later, the spectacular states of Tecnicolor a la Ben Hughes); it’s like nothing you’ve seen before in the Sue Benner space and it’s brilliantly conceived by Xani Kennedy. Then, in the same moment of perception, within that space, the strange, surreal setting created by black lace and leather clad actors seated or standing in their various poses, wearing ladies’ shoes, regardless of gender, and waiting. Against a blank canvas. Waiting for…something. For life to start. For a brush to be raised. For a story to be told and for the time to come when it is their turn to step up and play their part in the telling of it.  The atmosphere is arresting; like the perversity of The Rocky Horror Picture Show…if it were to happen in a Frida Kahloesque Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s perfect!

 

 

I’m immediately struck by this picture and then by the extraordinary vocal work that happens next. It’s out-of-this-world strong. And aggressive. And seductive, all at the same time. These figures suddenly sing at us, as if possessed by a creature of the night, some poor soul who has been left behind in the Manhattan apartment of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (incidentally, the show enjoyed a three week return run in NYC, at The Secret Theatre in July this year. When and where, I wonder, will we see it here? Oscar Theatre Company, I’m lookin’ at YOU!). The vocal work is extraordinary not only because of its quality and consistency throughout the show but also, because the director and the company members have worked themselves on their vocal arrangements and delivery, rather than inviting an outside MD and perhaps a Vocal Coach to work with them. This is self-sufficient theatre making at its most successful and The Danger Ensemble’s model is one that we are beginning to see more and more signs of. Thank goodness for that. It’s the ensemble philosophy that goes something like, “Just get the thing done and go on creating.” (I love also, the notion of the person closest to the broom does the sweeping but more on that in another post). It’s what we all need to do more of, leaving no time to lament the changes that a change in government has brought about or wonder whether or not we are making “good” art or “bad” art or the “right” kind of art. It was Brian Lucas, currently working on the return of his original work, Performance Anxiety, who reminded me that it is imperative to just get it done.

 

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

― Andy Warhol

 

Loco Maricon Amor

 

The non-storytelling that follows – the retelling of vague thoughts, memories and passionate feelings – reveals to us the imagined extremes of the torrid relationship between Federica Garcia Lorca (in perfect contrast to the inestimable Caroline Dunphy’s predatory Gala, we see a beautiful, quietly sexual being in Thomas Hutchins) and Salvador Dali (Chris Beckey at his most bemused and confused best. We do love this Dali.). The actors who play these fascinating men create an entire world, purely for the purpose of us understanding their story, in which they exist together, exclusively, outside of convention, tradition and expectation. Their relationship speaks volumes about the collision between Tragedy and Surrealism; a conflict that Director and Designer, Steven Mitchell Wright, has explored in this production to the nth degree.

As a director, Wright says he is “interested in moving away from ‘naturalism’ and ‘realism’ and moving towards a new form of storytelling (or non-storytelling) specific for our culture.” This approach means we are re-entering the realm of experimental theatre, a term that Wright is proud to reclaim. He explains, “Experimental in the sense that the work is an experiment, that there is an hypothesis behind the work, that the success or failure of the experiment is not measured in terms such as good, bad, like or didn’t but…in the experience created by the work, in the reaction each element within the experiment has to each other.” The audience is the final variable. He wants us to react.

And react we do. There are gasps and lots of laughter. A sense of wonderment and intrigue pervades. Our senses (and our sensibilities) are struck upon time and time again. Dunphy gives us her gorgeous, glamorous Gala, in all her formidable glory and Lucy-Ann Langkilde, Polly Sara and Bianca Zouppas confront us with a Greek Chorus that seduces, amuses and terrifies us, much like the lovers we had and had to dispose of just as hurriedly as we’d found them. Each as terrifying as the last and so good – and bad – for the soul!

Peta Ward, as Moon, almost turns this piece on its head, playing beautifully (delightfully, hilariously), in and out and amongst the meta-theatrics, challenging us to reconsider our perceptions of theatre and the nature (and purposes) of storytelling. She’s the delightfully subversive force that, were it a classroom, you would rather be rid of it/her (or at least have her medicated so you can get on with the work!). However, her comical character reveals much of the fun and mischievous intent behind this work and this production could not do without her, nor would it be what it is without the additional element, which I won’t give away, suffice to say that it’s crazy colourful and sensual to the point of almost becoming a gorgeous distraction from the action; enough on its own for actors and audiences to revel in. (But I’ve sworn not to reveal the secret ingredient! Let me know if you work it out!). Props must go to the hardest-working stage manager in town, Candice Diana and her team, for THAT cleanup each night!

Loco Maricon Amor is a long, desperate, passionate embrace, intriguing and difficult to become untwined from. Dali clings for dear life and Lorca allows it, perhaps even enjoys it (at times, its difficult to tell and I think this is the idea. Is he experiencing rapture or slight annoyance and fatigue? Or self doubt or disappointment? I thought of Stephen Schwarz’s Pippin, who is asked at the end of the show by Catherine, “How do you feel?” and having settled down with her, after experiencing everything there is in the world, Pippin replies, “Trapped.”). We are never caught between Lorca and Dali; we remain quite outside of them, always looking into their world rather than becoming immersed in it. We are happy to be the voyeurs, instead of getting any closer to the action (be a bit wary of getting too close; those wearing white or dry clean only garments should stay out of the front row!). In the intimate space, the proximity to the actors, their unfaltering gaze and their commitment to the tale will unnerve you and also, serve to confirm your suspicions that these are some of the most courageous risk-takers and makers of theatre in current contemporary performance circles. Steven Mitchell Wright has a big, bold vision of what theatre is and he ain’t afraid to show it, in the broadest of brushstrokes. This show, in whatever form it may take next, should go everywhere and be seen by everyone. This is how we just get it done and continue to reinforce what art – that vital life force, the life of the party – can be. More of whatever THAT is, please!

Loco maricon Amor Chris Beckey

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