Pitched on the frontier between performance art and narrative drama, Riddance, playwright Sissy Boyd and playwright-director Wes Walker's riveting tandem of thematically tied one-acts, presents fiercely different takes on loss and human resilience.
Boyd's “Movement For Two Voices” features the writer and Meg Foster entwined in a ghostly shadow dance as Foster intones an elegantly sculpted, elegiac reverie by a daughter about her dead mother, with Boyd serving as an echoing chorus. Together, the voices form a kind of disembodied self – a persona detached from and reflecting on herself as she journeys into the past.]
What makes the “movement” in the piece less about stage choreography than language is Boyd's ability to draw an audience through a vividly remembered emotional geography – train terminals, boating excursions and the sweeping vistas of childhood. That point of view is then suddenly and breathtakingly collapsed into something more profoundly intimate and poignant, as the narrator is revealed prone and immobile at the moment when literal, physical movement returns to her paralyzed body, and a stasis born of grief begins to lift.
To fully describe Walker's “A Man Entire” would destroy its teasing mystery and playful capacity for surprise. Suffice it to say that it is a witty tour de force of controlled disorientation in which a first-rate ensemble (Chris Kelley, Zoe Canner, Gill Gayle and Michael Kurtz) enacts converging narratives. Beginning in tight close-ups of murderous revenge and pursuit, Walker gradually widens his frame to reveal a broadening horizon of a sci-fi apocalypse whose epic ecological calamity only underscores the grotesque self-absorption of those most responsible.
MorYork Gallery, 4959 York Blvd., Highland Park; through April 6. (323) 660-8998, facebook.com/frenectomyhouse.
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