Apologies (and other grey areas)
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
December 3, 2011
Before the show starts, a young man in a conservative black suit is lying motionless on the stage. Later, the show starts and another identically-dressed young man sits with the first on an elevated platform. They have a calm, barefoot discussion using emotionless platitudes, ranging from the predictability of any action to the possibility of being in love. Their behavior contrasts with that of the seven female dancers behind the wall. Yes, this production (performed in the same space where you may have seen Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric productions) has a wall made up of black and white striped screens and mirrored panels. On the other side of this wall, seven dancers in white hoods and dance pants are stomping.
The men talk calmly, and occasionally descend from their platform to take away parts of the wall. In contrast to the guys, the women are full of motion. One after another, they shed their white uniforms and re-appear wearing unique street outfits (albeit ones that are American Apparel-related) while dancing to remixes of dance tracks. But still, the earnest dancing surpasses anything the men can say. Their helplessness is best summed up by an exchange that goes something like this: “I’m not a woman, so I’ll never be able to create anything.” The response: “You’ll make up for it by destroying things.” Compare this with the Schrödinger’s Cat paradox: when you observe the goings-on of a closed system, you have an equal probability of causing/not causing damage.
The title of the show has its own delightful indeterminacy. The men are having trouble verbalizing their first experiences with falling in love. Finally, the entire wall has been taken down and the women dance in the bright light. The lights dim. Man #1 is found right up against the boundary of the wall, with one of the dancers, now on his side, opening a box of shining light.
I liked this show more and more as it progressed. Maybe all you need to put an audience in a good mood is stimulating dance music. In the world of this show, words fall flat in contrast to feelings. Chris Masullo and Sam Trussell do put everything they’ve got into their man-talk. All the dancers (Siobhan Burke, Emily Craver, Veronica Carnero, Jessica Myers, Jeso O’Neill, Emily Sferra, Tatyana Tenenbaum) joyfully progress from stiff, listless dancing involving a lot of dropping to the floor to more liberated styles with partner dances. Writer-director-choreographer Jamie Peterson goes to great lengths to show us that not everything is black-and-white. Andreea Mincic’s set design is amazingly imaginative, spacious and bright.