Sisyphus Lives in All of Us
| ||Photo by Stephanie Berger|
| ||Ralph Lemon|
Ralph Lemon explains "How Can You Stay in the House all Day and Not Go Anywhere?"
By QUINN BATSON
Ralph Lemon tells us just what he has done and will do, then does it, and we wish he didn't. He may be testing the limits of audience patience; he certainly hints as much in his seated narration of the opening movie which takes up half the piece, and several people do leave. Still, a slight group seem to really like it. Clearly Lemon has good observation skills; nuggets of self-deprecating humor, and quotes that make points, pepper his movie narration that opens How Can You Stay in the House all Day and Not Go Anywhere?
And the movie, "Sunshine Room," wades into the depression and mourning of losing a loved one, as he did recently. Lemon never wallows, but the subject is tough, and he tells his/their endstory with sweetness and humor but also with enough unpleasant detail to make the pain real. Some audience who left may have choked on this.
|RALPH LEMON: HOW CAN YOU STAY IN THE HOUSE ALL DAY AND NOT GO ANYWHERE?|
|Choreography by: Ralph Lemon.|
Dancers: dancers: Djédjé Gervais, Darell Jones, Ralph Lemon, Gesel Mason, Okwui Okpokwasili, Omagbitse Omagbeni, David Thomson
movie: Walter and Edna Carter.
Costumes by: Anne de Velder.
Lighting design by: Roderick Murray.
Production stage manager: Kate Danziger.
Video design: Jim Findlay.
Film editor: Mike Taylor.
|BAM Harvey Theater|
October 13-16, 2010
But there are plenty of other reasons, if one is looking for one. The movie, intentionally amateurish but also cinematic and charming, focuses on a very old man, who is also another person Lemon loves who dies. This centenarian black man dresses up in a silly astronaut suit for Lemon and does whatever he is asked, to reenact some scenes from a 1972 Soviet scifi movie Lemon and his lover watched before she died. The man's eighty-year-old wife gamely plays the other half of this movie couple. Here again, sweet meets disturbing; using very old and probably very poor people to make a movie that on one level makes them look silly is another choice that could gag.
The movie transitions to dance with footage of the end of his last Geography trilogy, again hard to watch, as Lemon tries to dance while being firehosed like civil rights protesters were. Simultaneously, his other dancers are flailing themselves through three minutes of "ecstatic" movement that Lemon says they hated to do at the end of an almost two-hour piece. Lemon's dance response is to expand this flailing section to 15 or 20 minutes for , which they rehearse on-camera while intentionally drunk or stoned, by Lemon request.
| ||"Love without rage is said to be powerless." from the narration of Sunshine Room|
Having all this explained beforehand makes it even tougher to watch live, as dancers crash dangerously to the floor or into each other for what feels like forever. Interestingly, my mind wandered to a negative relationship that seems tough to shake. After extended sobbing by an offstage Okwui Okpokwasili, she finally wanders onstage with her back to us for the last few minutes of sob, ending by picking up a tambourine as the music shifts to something that could use tambourine, another wicked stab at a Black stereotype.
And if anyone is still feeling OK, Lemon comes out, lies on the floor and deadpans "yes," "ooh, yes" until blackout, to make even the thought of sex or ecstasy unpleasant. I can't recall leaving a show in a blacker mood.
|OCTOBER 19, 2010|
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