Anna and The Annadroids: Clone Zone
nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman Beaudin
August 15, 2007
One of the benefits of a large theatre festival like FringeNYC is that we audience members get a chance to step out of our tried-and-true favorite type of theatre and see works we may never have seen otherwise. I thought of this while watching the often bizarre and sometimes exciting, self-described "multimedia dance concert," Anna and the Annadroids: Clone Zone.
The piece, the brainchild of Anna Sullivan, who is the writer, director, choreographer, principal dancer, and primary vocalist, uses movement, video, and music to tell the story of a girl named Anna who has become too caught up in desires (such as shopping, sex, success, over-medication, etc.) that are not necessarily good for her. On her birthday, after spending tons of money shopping at the mall, she passes out in her birthday cake and finds herself whisked away to a video game where she can explore her desires in more detail.
While Anna is "down the rabbit hole," she has five "lives," represented by Annadroids. The Annadroids move from zone to zone as the game progresses and Anna explores her psyche.
(Confused? Okay. On a literal level, there are five dancers in front of a screen, music playing, and video in the background. Throughout the show, the video, music, and dance numbers change. The story is framed with realistic scenes about a girl on her birthday.)
On a technical level, this show is quite amazing for the amount of creativity involved. The show mostly uses original music composed by Forest Christensen and David Morneau. Throughout the show, the computerized and rhythmic music helps the audience get into the video-game feeling of the show; the vocals are oft-repeated, spoken words that sound appropriately electronically enhanced.
Of Brent Haley's very interesting video and animation, my favorite segment is the zone in which one of the Annadroids catches a virus. During the segment, there is the outline of a human figure with more and more bugs crawling inside the figure.
Under Sullivan's choreography and direction, the Annadroids' movements help each video game zone come to life. For example, during the "Sub-urban Daze" zone, the dancers jog in front of the screen containing animated rows of identical houses; during "(Man)ufractured," which seems to explore human sexuality, the dancers work in pairs, using lifts, and making shapes where their bodies touch. The dancers themselves—Amy Campbell, Shelby Lafrinere, Kristin Lewis, Rian Orders, and Anna Sullivan—seemed perfect. I loved watching their skill, expression, and coordination.
My favorite technical aspect of the show was Sullivan's costume design. The Annadroids all look like bizarre dolls with short, black, bobbed wigs, painted faces, exaggerated red lips, and long, sparkling eye lashes. Their identical and cold look fits well with Sullivan's concept. The Annadroids have several costume changes, and I found them exciting—the cool, matching jogging sets; the black dresses with the ruffled collars; the fuchsia tutus—and looked forward to seeing what the Annadroids would wear next.
The program notes state that this show is based on Jung's "multi-layered psychoanalytic model of the human psyche," and I saw evidence that it is highly planned on a conceptual level. Mostly, though, I appreciated the story on a visceral level, enjoying the skill, creativity, and originality of what I saw before me.
Overall, the show made me want to step out of my box more often and explore more movement-based theatre.