|Photo by Paula Court|
|Neal Medlyn, Andrew Dinwiddie, Weena Pauly|
Symposia of the Absurd
David Neumann and the Advanced Beginner Group meet the dark side of Hasselhoffness
By QUINN BATSON
Big Eaters takes a while to digest, and a while to develop, but the meal is a good one. Dark. Sad. Funny. Absurd. Sometimes dense and sometimes spare, by the end it feels like plenty.
There is such a mishmosh of serious and farcical philosophizing and dialog that it is easy to discount or miss things as they pass. Tidbits that stick out early are the questions "is a fixed position in the universe even possible?" and "do our dreams exceed our grasp?" As Andrew Dinwiddie expounds that our dreams must exceed our grasp or we have no future, everything seems slightly absurd, though in retrospect, it is all a bit deep. Much of the piece is presented as fake/real interviews or symposia, with a stage right TV set also flickering to life occasionally to share the mixed opinions and philosophies of Neumann's father, perhaps the first big eater of the piece in the chunks of thought he bites off and chews on.
|DAVID NEUMANN: BIG EATER|
|Dancers: Natalie Agee, Andrew Dinwiddie, Kennis Hawkins, Neal Medlyn, Weena Pauly, Will Rawls and Frederick Neumann as 'the man in the woods'|
hamburger servers: Tom Tancredi, Dom Tancredi.
Sound design by: Katie Down, Kim Fuhr, David Neumann.
Costumes by: Kaye Voyce.
Lighting design by: Dave Moodey.
Production stage manager: Amelia Freeman-Lynde.
Video design: Richard Sylvarnes.
Projections: Bryna Lieberman.
Visual design: Dave Moodey and David Neumann.
March 4-13, 2010
Each performer has a more or less fixed role that shifts continually, much like the overall piece. One moment a character is relating an apparently genuine bit of self-revelation and the next is acting out mock movie dialog or relating a mostly incomprehensible story. The end section keeps regurgitating an episode viewed well over two million times on YouTube of a drunk and hungry David Hasselhoff eating and messing with a hamburger while his teenage daughter explains that he will be fired from his current show tomorrow morning if his blood alcohol is too high. Slowly, this big eater episode becomes more and more the focus of the piece, until by the end, as Neal Medlyn plays the part of drunk David Hasselhoff and Weena Pauly plays the part of his pleading teenage daughter in the last face-to-face "interview", everyone in the cast has reenacted the notorious recording that aired some seriously dirty laundry and exposed a very sad side of real and hollywood life in someone who almost epitomizes the hollower side of the American dream.
There are so many tiny moments that glow, in the staging, the dialog, the sound design, the video backdrop, the dancing. What starts out as a bit wacky and slapstick gradually becomes deeper and deeper. By the end, the initial introduction of the subject "10 ways to know the world is ending", whose points get listed at apparently random places in the piece but never quite add up to 10, makes a sad sort of sense and gives the piece even more comic gravity. And the Medlyn/Pauly end is tragically perfect.
|MARCH 8, 2010|
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