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Review: from thine eyes

Posted by art On September - 29 - 2011

from thine eyes
Presented by DanceWorks
Co-produced by Native Earth Performing Arts and Signal Theatre
Choreographed and directed by Michael Greyeyes
Written by Yvette Nolan
Movement dramaturgy by Kate Alton
Music composed by Miquelon Rodriguez
Performed by Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert, Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger, and Claudia Moore
Ran September 22-24 @ Enwave Theatre

By Tina Chu

Death and dying may be an indefatigably intriguing theme common to art, but as the subject matter for the opening production to DanceWorks’s 2011-2012 Mainstage Series, it comes as something of a surprise.

Thought it’s difficult and obviously sombre subject to approach, from thine eyes presents a collection of four narratives that examine the idea that the unknowable truths of one’s life and of oneself are revealed through the act of dying and that these revelations are the passages into death.

Directed and choreographed by Greyeyes and written by Nolan, the narratives are not only complex thematically, but incredibly dense in detail as stories. It first begins with performer Sean Ling portraying a drug abuser who recalls the experience of himself unleashed as a murderer in a sudden fit of rage. Then, the scene deconstructs into Michael Caldwell’s performance as an abusive man re-living the violent rituals he inflicted upon his partner Ceinwen Gobert, eerily juxtaposed against memories of the recitation of the wedding vows that would begin this traumatic relationship. Next, Luke Garwood and Shannon Litzenberger performs as a couple wrestling to cope with a miscarriage and straddling the line between preserving the memory of their stillborn and being consumed with a past that will never be, a past that could ultimately destroy their relationship. Finally Claudia Moore closes with her depiction of a doctor who, nearing the end of her life begins to be haunted by visions of patients she has lost in her practice, recalling and beginning to understand how their deaths will ease her into her own inevitable end.

Undoubtedly, the intricacy of each narrative provides a rich texture to the piece, and there is no shortage of symbols and contemplations on what meanings may be derived from the act of dying.

The performers were apt in conveying the experience of their characters through both dance and theatre. At times, perhaps due to the complexity of each narrative, the re-enactment of certain memories distracted from the piece’s overall objective to explore the act of dying, so that it came to be about the memory itself and not how the act of reliving and being reconciled with moments of regret and guilt facilitates a moment of otherworldly epiphany.

There were also, at times, an imbalance in the choice of theatrical and dance interpretations, so that a dialogue felt stiff, leaving one longing for a concept or an experience to be expressed through dance rather than acting or vice versa, which further lost the message of the narratives and the significance of the memories being presented.

Yet, despite these shortcomings, from thine eyes presents some food for thought and the major complaint is that it falls just shy of exploring its views on death as a passage in further detail.

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