EL PODER DE CUATRO
nytheatre.com review by Gregg Bellon
Frustrating! My apologies to teatro de
los interesados for my bluntness. But frustration shadowed me as I
walked home tonight from el poder de cuatro, "a hallucination
inspired by the hidden symbolic meaning found in: the number four, the
Axiom of (famed alchemist) Maria Profitessa, and powdered beverages"…
like the frustration from a Matthew Barney movie or a Daniel Johnston
composition where the artist appears to be appeasing a greater internal
need to produce the piece rather than the desiring need to present it.
August 15, 2002
What unfolds on stage is "some slides, some modern dance, some video of an old woman in North Carolina" mixed with too much intellectualizing, some social commentary, some not-so-good-maybe-even-gratuitous humor (cotton panties with ironed-on "fantasstic" [sic]), and repetition, repetition, repetition. And yet several of the elements impress, demand to be acknowledged: the detailed aesthetic apparent in the design, movement, and stage pictures; the large wooden cube that dominates the stage and houses a dancer who pops up and out of it, handing out props and costumes. But others just pile the bricks on that wall of frustration: the projected photos of landscapes titled in Spanish (which was "probably not (to) be spoken") with the names of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, etc., obvious sets of four; the very use (co-opting) of Spanish in these titles and the main title to no organic end or connection except a satirical reference to Velasquez and Goya (not the more apt Buiuel and Dali). Ultimately, the effect "in the room" was that of a gallery: ART theatre.
The cast embraced the aesthetic and executed superbly (the rule not the exception this year at FringeNYC), never condescending in the midst of so much pontification. Cast members, all credited as creators, include: Sara Lamm, also writer; Matthew Brookshire, also director/co-choreographer; Sion Dayson, also choreographer; Ben Cherry; and Robyne Parrish which begs the question, "Who was watching, listening, taking notes?" The sense that this piece was created in the mirror contained the performances inside the fourth wall, for performer not audience, preventing it from engaging us and with us.