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    2016-2017 reviews:

  •  REVIEW: STALKING CHRISTOPHER WALKEN

    Walken in circles

    The dance-theater piece "Stalking Christopher Walken," meant to be an exploration of the famed actor's mind, never justifies its title with the kind of imagination it would take to put us in such a place.

    By FRANK VIGORITO
    Offoffoff.com

    As the inventive and popular cult film "Being John Malkovich" proved, sometimes a well-known celebrity's persona — as imagined by the culture's collective consciousness — can provide a fertile landscape for storytelling, whether or not the new story holds any truth to the celebrity's real identity and nature. In "Stalking Christopher Walken," writer and director Gabriel Grilli attempts to conjure up "a daydream" taking place in the movie actor cum MTV dance sensation's mind with an ensemble cast of characters that includes two aliens, a Hungarian gypsy, two Christopher Walkens, a Natalie Wood and an Anastasia Romanoff.

      
    STALKING CHRISTOPHER WALKEN
    Choreography by: Dana Ruttenberg.
    Written and directed by: Gabriel Grilli.
    Dancers: Vincent Briguccia, Caroline Tamas, Javier Cobo, Cassandra Smith, Alexandra Shilling, Barbara P. King, Tina Manchise, Mario Tomic.
    Dramaturgy and production coordination: Michael Byrnes
     SCHEDULE
    Theater for the New City
    155 First Ave.
    Fringe Festival 2002, Aug. 9-25, 2002

     RELATED ARTICLES
    Fringe Festival 2002

    • Show listings

    Theater
    • All American Boy
    • Beat
    • Confessions of an Art School Model
    • Deviant
    • The Joys of Sex
    • Living London
    • Naked Girls Drinking
    • Out to Lunch
    • Portrait of a President
    • Refugees
    • Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
    • Room to Swing an Axe
    • Sajjil
    • Star
    • Seeing Each Other
    • Up Your Rabbit Hole
    • The Welcoming Committee

    Dance
    • ASPIC
    • Stalking Christopher Walken
    • Wet Blue and Friends

    Other Fringe Festivals
    • Fringe 2000
    • Fringe 2001
    As a dance-theater performance with original choreography by Dana Ruttenberg and music my Sami Basbous, "Stalking's" combination of movement along with text and interesting audio/visual effects should provide a solid foundation from which to explore the inner workings of one man's very intriguing mind, but like so many dreams, the pieces just don't fit together.

    Even in the most surreal of productions, one expects to be able to intuit some kind of meaning. A modern dance performance without any text, for example, usually demonstrates its meaning through the evocative gestures contained in the movement. When you add in text, however vague, the two media should combine for an even stronger understanding of the whole. In "Stalking," however, the many dance numbers range from enjoyable and toe-tapping to frankly alienating and poorly executed while adding nothing to the story's development.

    Another interesting choice by Grilli is to have the actors break the "fourth wall" and act as themselves intermittently throughout the performance. While their characters are intriguing and sometimes amusing — especially the naughty, lolitaesque "alien/shrink" played by Barbara P. King — they never seem to come together to expound on what should be the main theme: Chris Walken. This focus is further lost in a number of curious subplots surrounding the death of Natalie Wood (Walken was also on the boat), the possibility that Wood was actually the lost Romanoff princess Anastasia, and some kind of interaction between a skater and another alien woman. Where's the Walken?

    When the celebrity impersonations actually do make an appearance — sometimes in voiceover, sometimes in movement — it's a relief and a pleasure, but they are so few and far between that the audience is mostly left empty-handed and wanting more. Rather than creating such an expansive and unresolved world inside the actor's head, Grilli might have achieved a greater cohesion by limiting his scope and focusing more on what makes Walken Walken for the rest of us. Surely an actor whose credits include "The Deer Hunter," "King of New York," last year's "The Seagull" in Central Park, a "Simpsons" cameo, and a Fatboy Slim video leaves much more room for intriguing storytelling without venturing so far from what's already in the public's imagination. "Stalking Christopher Walken" delivers exactly what most real-life stalkers eventually achieve: a fleeting, unfulfilling glimpse.

    AUGUST 14, 2002
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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