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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Rachel Rizzuto and Misuzu Hara in Mari Meade and Gierre Godley
    Photo by Mickey Hoelscher
    Rachel Rizzuto and Misuzu Hara

    Screaming Inside

    Mari Meade and Gierre Godley
    Tackle Darkness and Indifference, at St. Mark's


    Being the odd man out is an experience most of us have had. Mari Meade and Gierre Godley go to extremes of this in Brood III and the Interloper and Black Dolphin, respectively. Both also share strong dancing, long, quiet periods and endings that suggest growth and reconciliation.

    Choreography by: Mari Meade, Gierre Godley.
    Dancers: Meade: Allison Beler, Dia Dearstyne, Breanna Gribble, Misuzu Hara, Morgan Hurst, Isaac Owens, Or Reitman
    Godley: Zachary Denison, Gierre J Godley, Aaron McGloin, Colin Ranf, Aaron R. White
    Music by: Ben Kutner (Godley).
    Costumes by: Marc Witmer (Meade), Lara de Bruijn (Godley).
    Lighting design by: Rob Ross.
    Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church
    January 22-24, 2015

    Long narrative is new territory for Mari Meade, and she does a good job with the genre. The brood are active and athletic, with one who shines brighter (Misuzu Hara, aka André) and often takes the lead. It is an increasingly lonely lead, though, as the others leave her on her own and she fails to reconnect. An interloper (Rachel Rizzuto, aka Alyss) finds the group in this place, tries to save the day, and fails, sadly. The process is painful to watch, and Alyss' frustration shows through in her stammering, disjointed pleas. Recruiting audience members to show Hara how to hug adds tension and interest but doesn't help the situation.

    Only André/Hara's "death" lifts the others' blindness, and of course some want to blame Alyss, the messenger. Dia Dearstyne's character Velma, in particular, wants vengeance, and sets off a minidrama of Velma attacking, Morgan Hurst (Le Fay) defending and the others running in and around indecision.

    L-R: Allison Beler, Misuzu Hara, Breanna Gribble, Dia Dearstyne, Or Reitman, Isaac Owens in Mari Meade and Gierre Godley
    Photo by Mickey Hoelscher
    L-R: Allison Beler, Misuzu Hara, Breanna Gribble, Dia Dearstyne, Or Reitman, Isaac Owens

    Throughout, there is a flavor of silent film, with its broad acting and enhanced physicality. Big dancing and dark wandering share the space, in a good mix, and the poignancy of Alyss/Rizzuto's futile empathy is sharp. The brood do seem wiser and perhaps more care-full by the end, uncertainly incorporating Alyss and her message.

    Rob Ross lights both the Brood and Black Dolphin as if light is a rare commodity. Certainly the subject/source material of Black Dolphin is dark to the point of bleak; JaPoet condenses a memoir of a prisoner in some of Russia's worst jails into a mysterious and open-to-interpretation narration. And an onstage Ben Kutner plays sparsely moody piano compositions.

    L-R: Gierre Godley, Aaron McGloin, Colin Ranf in Mari Meade and Gierre Godley
    Photo by Julia Halpin
    L-R: Gierre Godley, Aaron McGloin, Colin Ranf

    Between the literal, metaphorical and musical darkness, much of the early sections of Gierre Godley's Black Dolphin are a tough slog, appropriately. Costumes of black pants and shirts with a slash/lapel of red add to the discomfort. The struggle to dance/break out of an imprisoned state feels real, and mostly hopeless.

    Only when Godley's dancers shed their black togs to reveal white tunics do the action and mood pick up. All five are strong movers, and Aaron McGloin has an especially sharp solo near the end. At no point does Dolphin approach happy, though; this is a thorough acknowledgement of darkness and the existential struggle to handle it and find meaning in it — to live in it. Song-and-dance Broadway it is not.

    As in the brood piece before, the message of Black Dolphin is hard to hear because it is tough to process, but that only shows how important the process is. Kudos to Godley for tackling it, and for not taking the easy road. If a purpose of art is to challenge our comfort and make us think, Black Dolphin succeeds.

    FEBRUARY 2, 2015

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