nytheatre.com review by Akia Squitieri
December 7, 2005
After reading a brief intro on Prone (see above), I was very intrigued and looked forward to the performance. I was not disappointed in the least.
From the moment you enter the space you realize that you are in for an experience, not just a performance. Audience members are stripped of their bags, coats, and even their shoes before entering the space. They are handed clean white spa-like slippers and even offered white socks if they so desire. Each audience member is also handed a piece of paper with a short list of instructions and allowed to choose between rows of futuristic blown-up air mattresses or chairs from which begin the journey that is Prone.
The audience was divided among people who looked bewildered and those who looked gleeful at the prospect of lying down during a performance. I was one of the latter and chose to start out on the floor. Once I lay down, I began to absorb my surroundings. There is intricate tubing running along the sides of the mattresses (which carry sound in fascinating ways), and hanging on the ceiling are eight panels of mirrors so that all angles of the performance space may be viewed from the auditorium floor.
The opening of the piece utilizes a slow unfolding of movement and props to introduce its performers and envelop the audience. Trust is immediately granted as the dancers weaved around the bodies of audience members on the floor.
Halfway through the performance the audience is switched—those on the floor move to chairs and vice versa. The manner in which it is done is a delightful treat which I won’t give away. Only know that I recommend you start out on the mattresses, you won’t regret it!
The choreography itself alternates between intricate, detailed movements that are sometimes dull and repetitious. The dancers Luciana Achugar, Levi Gonzalez, and Eleanor Hullihan are all skillful in both the movement and interactions with the audience. It is clear that they are exceptionally comfortable both with the material and each other, as many pieces of the movement required precision and trust with the other performers and the audience. One of my favorite segments was a combination of design element and dance, in which one of the dancers (Hullihan) integrates herself into the lighting pieces and through the audience in a captivating solo movement.
John Jasperse’s production design is superb, and I wish that he had focused as much energy on the choreography as he did the design. All of the elements, from the lighting to the sound to the visual aesthetics, are enriching and moving. The lighting (by Jasperse and Joe Lavasseur) is beautifully stark and serves the piece well. Costumes (not credited) are simple but well-serving and thought-out.
The original score and improvised on-site music by Zeena Parkins are alluring and confident. Combining live instrumentations, pre-recorded sounds, and electronic effects, they provide the perfect aural enhancement to Jasperse’s all-encompassing production.
All in all, Jasperse weaves some indescribable magic that combines theatrics, music, and movement in ingenious ways. If you are looking for something outside of the box, Prone may be the show for you.