A Dark Shade of Light
| ||Photo by Yi-Chun Wu|
| ||Nikki Zialcita (front) and Michael Helland|
Faye Driscoll's "There is so much mad in me" unleashes nine souls at DTW
By QUINN BATSON
There is so much mad in me takes everything Faye Driscoll has worked with and binds it together to create an emotional monsterpiece, a beautiful rollercoaster of feeling and sensation. Ecstasy runs right into tragedy over and over again, with perfectly paced moments of silent wound-licking between rounds.
Blinding white light and noise accompanies the performers streaming down the aisles of DTW toward the stage to open what may be the widest-ranging piece I've seen. Onstage, clumps of two and three performers interact in a vague place between human and animal, with an amazing feral growl coming from one as the scene ends.
Nikki Zialcita and her inimitable private gigglejoy are stars of the show and the first thing we see onstage next, shadowed or peopled by someone behind her, the first of many strange moments of inhabitation or coupling that involve one more body than seems natural, like a physical manifestation of the "mad" in each. Joy at the edge of madness is a frequent visitor onstage, an ecstasy so fragile it is scary to watch, and Zialcita does this better than anyone, making us bellylaugh while we wait for the breakdown. As her hidden body partner becomes more and more visible, the two begin to interact and intertwine, eventually leading to hilarious swinging moments of "wheeee" where Zialcita is enjoying herself with legs wrapped around her lover/self/alterego. At some point she breaks free and begins happily slapping herself silly in a rhythmic slapdance that eventually draws everyone else onstage to form a dance circle to egg her on and eventually reward her with flowers and chocolates.
|FAYE DRISCOLL: THERE IS SO MUCH MAD IN ME|
|Choreography by: Faye Driscoll.|
Dancers: Lindsay Clark, Lily Gold, Michael Helland, Jennie MaryTai Liu, Tony Orrico, Jacob Slominski, Adaku Utah, Jesse Zaritt, and Nikki Zialcita.
Sound design by: Brandon Wolcott.
Set design by: Sara C. Walsh.
Costumes by: Machine (Dazzle).
Lighting design by: Amanda K. Ringger.
Production stage manager: Randi Rivera.
|Dance Theater Workshop|
March 31-April 3, 2010
|Photo by Yi-Chun Wu|
|L-R: Nikki Zialcita, Tony Orrico, Michael Helland, Jesse Zaritt, Adaku Utah, Lily Gold, Lindsay Clark, Jacob Slominski|
This theme of group excitement also comes back again and again, and it is not always quite so bright and shiny. The first hint of this comes when the silent and oblivious Lindsay Clark wanders onstage just as the celebration is peaking to stand directly in front of Zialcita and squash her moment. Oddly, the crowd quickly forgets Nikki and starts asking, then commanding Lindsay to "sing her song", even beginning to rough her up a bit as she stays mute, happiness quickly turning to darkness, another common occurrence.
If the occasional growls and shrieks aren't enough, Tony Orrico coming out to literally climb the wall downstage is yet another semi-literal reference to being a bit mad, with onlookers coming to encourage him until things devolve into upsidedown feet tickling his neck.
Throughout, sound design by Brandon Wolcott and lighting design by Amanda K. Ringger do a wonderful job of conveying love and madness, joy and violence, happy darkness. Both sound and light alternate between subtle and severe quickly. Music that is so spare and joyful for much of the early part of the piece, and lighting during a big group eighties-music-video dance section that cycles through bright background colors while the group stays lit in white, stick in mind, but moments of darkness get masterful light and sound as well.
The performances by Lindsay Clark, Lily Gold, Michael Helland, Jennie MaryTai Liu, Tony Orrico, Jacob Slominski, Adaku Utah, Jesse Zaritt, and Nikki Zialcita are superb, emotionally and physically.
|Photo by Yi-Chun Wu|
In the course of the show, there are religious-style revival meetings, group rapes and physical fights and their emotional aftermath, and even a Springer-style deviant-sex talk show that, as usual here, begins quite humorously and ends badly as the entire group chases and brutally beats down the slightly-too-sexually-active Tony.
The darkness and violence are so wrenching and real at moments, so much more so than the hysterical happiness that pervades much of the rest of the piece, and yet the chillout moments between high drama are so soft and sad and exhausted that the overall flow of the piece always feels natural. Madness in every guise is included here, yet humor and ambiguity keep things from ever falling off a cliff, also true to life.
A big fight scene between Michael Helland and Jesse Zaritt is a good example and a sort of pivot in the piece. After Jesse beats Michael and gloats way too much for the fight-provoking crowd, the two play a twisted triangle with Lindsay to cajole her to sing, both manipulating furiously, one bribing and the other commanding. When Lindsay finally does sing her song, she is joined by first one, then two, then the entire group, who sing a beautiful spiritual song about "when heaven comes down, what does it look/feel/sound like when God is all around." This could be the uplifting ending, and indeed gives that impression at first, but like Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil, "...so much mad..." has multiple endings, and only one is unconflicted.
A possible ending before the singing one is so dark and psychotically angry, via Jacob Slominski, that any trace of fun is far away. The ultimate ending, with a voice-distorted domestic argument from hell over a group jogging slowly and in rhythmic synchronicity like a military unit around a darkened stage and up and down the aisles, has just the right mix of tragedy and comedy and ends with an exchange that most in the audience can appreciate man:"I just want to know what you're feeling." woman: "I don't know."
|APRIL 5, 2010|
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