nytheatre.com review by Jeffrey Lewonczyk
Re-reading the FringeNYC program guide's description of Anathemas,
by Venezuela's Proyecto Artistico Fusion, I discovered a remarkable
portrait of a company cleaning up its mess in advance: "Anathemas
goes beyond the rules and regulations that dictate understanding."
(i.e., "We do not claim that this show makes any sense.") It continues:
"They are connected more than by perfection, by the fifth essence of a
no verbal [sic] communication." (i.e., "It's messy, and if you don't get
it, you're just not tuned in.")
August 15, 2002
That being said, how refreshing it was to find a Fringe show that so easily fits in with our culture's derogatory preconceptions of what "Fringe" can mean! Director/choreographer Lic. Miguel Angel Baloa has diligently studied page after page from the Avant-Garde Handbook, and has neglected no opportunity to bombard the audience with hysterical High-Art nonsense. I had a strong sense that the performance I saw was mostly, if not fully, improvised, so I can't make any promises, but if you decide to go, expect to encounter: an aggregate of random-seeming, arty props (including the requisite creepy, devil-dolls); a man wearing nothing but cellophane wrapping and a gas mask, who quite literally drags reluctant audience members into the fray; long, long stretches of empty, awkward silence… and that's about it, actually. No indication was given that the show had ended—after the saran-wrapped figure left the stage, ripping off his plastic sheath, and didn't come back after ten minutes, I assumed the show was over, and left. I could easily have been wrong; even a company member, sitting in the house and videotaping, didn't seem to know what was going on. But the half-hour running time was up, so I don't feel bad. The only thing I know for sure is that, as an audience member, I've never felt so superfluous in my life.
However, I feel a little bad bashing a group that traveled all the way from South America to be in the Festival. (And besides, this is the first production I've ever seen that attempted to use the Theatorium's perennially leaky roof to its advantage.) Therefore I'll end with a semi-sincere salute: Hats off to Proyecto Artistico Fusion for keeping alive the tradition of ponderous, incomprehensible theatre that is meant to be "deep." Long live the Avant-Garde!