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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
On The Boards
United States
Seattle, WA

NW New Works Festival 2011 at On The Boards

by Robert Abrams
June 11, 2011
On The Boards
100 West Roy Street
Seattle, WA 98119
Sometimes I go to shows not knowing what to expect. Tonight's NW New Works Festival presented by On The Boards was one of those nights.

On The Boards allows patrons to bring drinks into the main stage theater, and many patrons took advantage of this policy.

The first work, Surfacing, Chapter 2, created and performed by Holcombe Waller assisted by two others (the performance program isn't completely clear on who was in the show) is a multi-media camping experience in which Mr. Waller tells the story of his grandmother, an anarchist and communist whom the Catholic Church approached seeking evidence of miracles for the possible elevation to sainthood of a friend of hers. The persons described may or may not be fictional, and I am not sure how one can be both an anarchist and communist at the same time, but I am not sure it matters. The visuals were interesting, both the use of hand held mirrors shining spotlights and the projections of musicians that made them look like they were inside the tent on stage. Mr. Waller had a strong, pleasing voice. I thought he was a little like an off-kilter Paul Simon. If there were a Surfacing, Chapter 3, I might see it.

Paige Barnes then performed War Is Over in which she boxed with a projection of herself. Sometimes multiple projections of herself. The music consisted of heart beats, dogs, a voice over in Spanish, lyrical Spanish accented music, high pitched music, more voices in Spanish, rock music and some humming by Ms. Barnes. Sometimes Ms. Barnes copied the movements of the projections, and sometimes she interacted with them. Sometimes she was frenetic and sometimes tortured. Some of the movement looked akin to an epileptic fit. And plenty of literal boxing moves. It was an interesting concept.

The next work was Part & Parcel, By Guess & By God, performed by Allie Hankins and Mary Margaret Moore. The program notes said they were working on this dance for a year, when Ms. Moore was the victim of a hit and run accident about a month ago, which meant they had to recraft the work quickly to be ready for this festival. Given that, I think it would be fairest to treat what was presented as a work in progress. In light of this, I will just make a few comments on things in the performance I liked without rendering an overall judgment. At the start, the two dancers were standing in a square of light, backs turned to the audience. I thought they made interesting shapes. In the next segment, the lighting opened up and they used the whole stage. This created a nice contrast. I remember liking their angular, sharp movements. This work could be worth another look when Ms. Moore has had a chance to heal.

The final work of the night was you're the stuff that sets me free by Jessica Jobaris & General Magic. It started out with what looked like garbage being strewn across the stage, and went downhill from there, including both male and female full frontal nudity that didn't serve any artistic purpose I could see. This seemed to be the sort of work that exists for the sole purpose of shocking the audience, which isn't my cup of tea or bottle of beer (neither of which would have helped the experience). If it had been a statement against our consumerist society, or something, I might have been more willing to go along with it, but to my eye the emphasis was mostly on random anarchy. There was one bit I liked, where two men danced connected by a very long rope, but otherwise I would have preferred an empty set with nothing but a series of lighting cues. At one point, one of the actors said "Enough" and I was thinking "Yes, my sentiments exactly."

So, in sum, one really creative and well executed performance and two performances with potential: pretty good for a high risk evening of entertainment.

For more information about each performance, including cast and crew, click here for the performance program.
Paige Barnes

Paige Barnes

Photo © & courtesy of Tim Summers

Holcombe Waller

Holcombe Waller

Photo © & courtesy of Alicia Rose Photography

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