Prelude to Memories, and a Broken Love Song
nytheatre.com review by Michael Mraz
August 15, 2012
In her nytheatre.com Q & A, writer/performer Susana Fuentes says she started building Prelude to Memories, and a Broken Love Song (which is making it’s NYC premiere in the 16th New York International Fringe Festival) “for an actress and some props. I wanted to combine music and gesture on the stage” and incorporate her background in mime, movement and dance. She delivers on featuring her many talents; however the words that string them all together don’t always create a cohesive experience.
Throughout the hour-long piece, Fuentes’ movements are infused with grace and beauty. She’s fascinating to watch; her every gesture is deliberate and artful. Fuentes wows us with an impressive mime routine- dancing with a balloon that she manages to imbue with human strength and weight, some amazing hand dancing/choreography, a very realistic, expressive puppet routine, and a few tunes on the accordion.
The question, however, is what holds it all together? And I’m not sure I found the answer watching this show. In between each music or dance interlude (each “act”, so-to-speak), there’s a loose script. Fuentes tells us of her lost love that she performed with in the carnival, muses existentially on the idea of memory and time, and even tells us about her cat. But I had a hard time finding a strong through-line; a story; a lesson or theme. Her words are poetic and she has some very poetic, profound sentiments. She mentions that it’s interesting that her cat looks into her eyes; that he identifies that as “her”. He does not see her in her feet, in her hands; but in her eyes. And while I took pause considering this (and her cat, who she has a poster of: he’s very cute) during the show, afterwards I thought back to it and thought “Wow, I really like that. But why was it there? What was its point?”
This becomes the issue with the movement and musical pieces: it’s all very beautiful and engaging- but why are they there? Why are we watching them, other than to admire their beauty? I wasn’t able to decode the answer. I think this issue became more apparent because the demonstrations of each of these skills were a bit too long. For example, the puppetry was amazing- but the puppet “sang” two songs. While I found the first song completely engrossing, the second song took me out of it- I didn’t understand what it was adding to the table, that the first did not.
Prelude to Memories, and a Broken Love Song is a great showcase for Ms. Fuentes many talents and her charisma and its variety-show nature does feel distinctly tied to it’s carnival themes. You can certainly walk in and enjoy her skills and general likability; if you go into the show knowing that’s what you’re getting. However, if you’re looking for a story and justification for these things, you might not find exactly what you’re looking for.