nytheatre.com review by Maggie Cino
March 11, 2007
Be, the new offering from Israeli group Mayumana, hurtles along at a breakneck pace. So why watching it is so tedious?
On the surface, it's got a lot going for it. Eight buff, good-looking people in revealing urban primitive outfits drum and dance; they do acrobatics and funky tricks with light, sound, and objects; they show off more specific skills like break-dancing, contortion, tango, belly dancing, guitar, and clowning. There are striking pieces, like a rhythm game with bouncing light-up balls; a percussion number with clacking frying pans; a black-light show in scuba gear; and an audience-interactive rhythm show. It sounds like a good formula for, if not a runaway hit, at least a thoroughly entertaining evening.
Unfortunately, it never really adds up to anything. Although we get hints of the performers' personalities, any opportunity to relish even simple relationships are lost in the breakneck frenzy. Act follows act without room for breath, and the acts don't have a strong thematic connection to each other. The beginning is easier to enjoy because the pace allows for breath and wonder and everything is still new. But as the evening goes on, everything starts to blur together in a frenzy of noise and lights and number after number ends with a wild flourish that suggests it is the showstopper. I found myself cheering louder at each subsequent "ending" not so much because the act (which looked much like the one that came before it) was so impressive, but because I kept thinking that this time, the evening was really over.
This show has amazing individual elements—charismatic, attractive, athletic performers; good ideas and clever stagecraft. But by themselves these things are only briefly interesting. What's missing are patterns, relationships, (between people, objects, or themes), and a sense of pace. And as athletic and impressive as the cast members of Be are, the evening is ultimately even less than the sum of its parts.