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    PeggyIvy Baldwin hits Lawrence Cassella and Katie Workum (R-L) in Ivy Baldwin: <br>Here Rests Peggy
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    PeggyIvy Baldwin hits Lawrence Cassella and Katie Workum (R-L)

    Funny, with Violent and Sad

    Here Rests Peggy is Ivy Baldwin's latest, at the Chocolate Factory


    Ivy Baldwin loves to be mysterious, and she has gotten quite good at it. Here Rests Peggy ranges wide and free in this performance at the Chocolate Factory. but it never strays. That doesn't mean that there is any connection between scenes or an overall story arc; it means that each scene feels right in itself and ends just in time for the next to begin, or vice versa.

    Choreography by: Ivy Baldwin in collaboration with the performers.
    Dancers: Ivy Baldwin, Lawrence Cassella, Eleanor Smith and Katie Workum.
    Sound design by: Justin Jones.
    Set design by: Anna Schuleit.
    Costumes by: Walter Dundervill.
    Lighting design by: Chloe Z Brown.
    Production stage manager: Randi Rivera.
    The Chocolate Factory
    October 20-30, 2010

    Nonsense and physical comedy are the rule, but the rule can be broken at any time, for a somber break or a violent episode. Both occur more often toward the end of the piece, to give us time to breathe or to jolt us back to the present in case we were being lulled. Justin Jones' sound design does an excellent job of carrying us through different places that Baldwin, Katie Workum, Lawrence Cassella and Eleanor Smith inhabit and explore. And lighting design by Chloe Z. Brown takes us from the smallish, concrete-floored room in front of us to darker and more interesting places.

    Through osmosis, not the program, the Peggy that rests here is Peggy Guggenheim; the art on the back wall, large like her life, likely refers to Jackson Pollack, someone she helped and loved. There is no literal or verifiable information in the piece, but it makes a good backstory. Is Lawrence Cassella pressing his knee into a prone Baldwin's chest until she gasps "Get off!" as a reference or just a physical gag? Is the stomping/lunging Cassella, strumming the radiators lining the walls, referring to a drunk and raging Pollack or the harp music in the background or just...? Is it a coincidence that two shaking the hips of the other two (with their feet) reminds one of those weight-loss machines from the 'fifties that allegedly shook the fat off people with a big belt?

    Eleanor Smith takes Lawrence Cassella for a walk in Ivy Baldwin: <br>Here Rests Peggy
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Eleanor Smith takes Lawrence Cassella for a walk

    When blinking becomes contagious and all go around both butterfly-kissing and creatively slapping each other, the result is hilarious even if the reference, or lack of one, is not. When Baldwin begins air-punching Workum and Cassella over and over, until their movie-fake reactions get out of sync with her swings and go off on their own little tangent, the result is slapstick humor tinged with the thought of real violence. And when Katie Workum leads a little discussion/lecture in a high-pitched gibber, holding her arms up in a victory V, the line between humor and illustration feels irrelevant, and any need for reason goes away.

      Ivy Baldwin: <br>Here Rests Peggy
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Other than this gibberish speech, language is mostly missing, and big physical booms as the four hit the back wall hard are the most memorable sound. This sonic range, from tiny gibber to violent boom, represents the scope of the piece well, too, with light humor and heavy darkness vying. Workum, sitting alone at the front of the stage, is left with the last words, breathlessly repeating the three phrases I am/I appear/I disappear until they become abstractions, and the lights go down to leave us wondering.

    NOVEMBER 4, 2010

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    Here Rests Peggy"