Daniel Clifton's Marked Territory messes with the fourth wall
By SARAH CARLSON
The curtain slowly rises revealing the source of an ominous rhythm that has begun behind it. Like a dirge, a motley choir of singer/dancers chant solemnly to the sound of Danny Clifton falling, standing and falling again. He continues this interminable cycle of collapsing, resigned to its necessity, numb to its pain. Watching in disbelief, we are swept up into his anguish, into the inevitability of this moment. From curtain up to curtain down, Clifton weaves a smart tapestry of dance, drama, music and video ever surprising as it unfolds, and prickly with its bitter touch.
Marked Territory, masterminded by Danny Clifton, engages a range of talents as it accosts, soothes, shocks, confronts, and questions our very attention. Pornographic prose of penetration bliss is read while a wrestling match ensues; "There you go, keep it going..." A screeching rock band blasts out of key: " Every time I look inside I get all screwed up, all fucked up, I think I'm in love." Clifton breaks out of an inspired solo to point out to his audience "You don't really know me," and "It's fucking weird if you think about it." Everything is questioned from the monotony of our lives, to conventional theatrical voyeurism, to the irony of intimacy. The fourth wall becomes selectively porous so that we become equally prepared for direct bombardment or casual looking.
|DANIEL CLIFTON: MARKED TERRITORY|
|Choreography by: Daniel Clifton.|
Dancers: Johanna Cairns, Daniel Clifton, Aaron Draper, Sarah Holcman, Mia Jacobucci, Amy Larimer, Nicholas Leichter.
Music by: Gillian Harwin (voice, guitar, bass, musical saw); Joshua Gilgoff (drums).
Production stage manager: Kryssy Wright.
Sound engineer: Damien "Fox" Foxton.
Movers and shakers: Niall Jones, Jen "JJ" Kovacevich, Melinda Lee, Amanda Martin, Ryan Ross, Saul Ulerio.
Abrons Arts Center
March 21 and 22, 2008|
A screen descends and Clifton's oversized face projects exaggerated agony. Suddenly a familiar voice booms: "What are you doing, Dave?" Disturbingly calm, Stanley Kubrick's computer drone is the voice of reason in the face of overwhelming emotion. Gradually, Clifton's face aborts to neutral and it is the computer's turn to feel, "Stop Dave, I'm afraid." Later, a seduction begins with the thoughts of the female player revealed in running dialogue. Enter Johanna Cairns who interrupts, breaks down and explains the event in journalistic style. Photos are snapped, private is made public, and the magic is gone.
Marked Territory is technically complex in a way that does not betray the wit and wisdom of its structure. Each element is carefully chosen and resonates on a number of levels. Even though the quality of singing and acting varies, every blandly delivered line, every off-key note further strengthens the message. In a world of cubicles and blinders, our desperate attempts to break free may only numb us further.
With each successive scene, Clifton keeps upping the ante and adds another layer to his richly textured dˇcor. While absurdist at times, the action is chaotically seamless. Gillian Harwin plays a musical saw that wails its lonely tune in a haunting soliloquy. Bodies are draped two by two on a grim, passionless dance floor. Aaron Draper croons to Harwin's guitar; "Oh to be the cream." There are no answers in this landscape, but its gray, singed corners inspire compassion. Clifton has marked his territory, and it is fine.
|MARCH 23, 2008|
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