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A CurtainUp Review
The Changeling: A Choreographer's View
By By Joan Eshkenazi
Editor's Note: When I reviewed Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's The Changeling less than a week ago, I noted that since so much of this producton relies on choreography, I'd invited a guest reviewer who happens to be a choreographer to give us her impressions. Here is her perspective on the production.
At last -- a play presented in which dialogue, movement and set design combine to create a powerful, moving production that leaves one exhausted. Your stomach might turn at the sight of dripping blood and you might squirm at the ghastly displays on stage, but in no way is it possible to leave the Playhouse at St. Clements Church unmoved. From the intense pulse of the flamenco movement that opens this tragicomedy through the stunningly choreographed performances that follow until the end when even in death there is visual vibration, this work is ingeniously patterned. At times the spoken word is not necessary, for the movement tells all; other times, words ring out in piercing slashes of truths. No sense in us remains untouched.
I see this production as a dance-drama. The use of props are fascinating: ropes become lanes of restraint, telephone booths become cells that confine people along with their actions and crimes. The repositioning of the booths creates containers for the gruesome crime scenes. Fire hoses become river-like wave bands as the characters struggle against the tides of fate and consequences of their own actions. One finds relief form morbidity when two blue ghosts playfully dance as the blue notes of the jazzy "Let Yourself Go."
The entire cast gives all. The inmates in the asylum perform with wrenching intensity. Especially wickedly delightful is the character of De Flores (Christopher McCann) as he slithers across the stage. As we observe his evil body language, we can have no doubt as to his intent. Marin Hinkle as Beatrice moves through her role with the unleashed passion of a torrid flamenco dancer. As this production has previously been reviewed , I will not go into the characterizations in depth. I see all the elements of this dance-drama combined to create an impassioned work of art.
Hats off to director, Robert Woodruff; set designer, Neil Patel; lighting designer, Donald Holder; costume designer, Kasia Walicka; with a special bow to Sa'ar Magal who so effectively choreographed this play.
A renowned choreographer and teacher of modern dance, in the audience, remarked that she is telling all her students to see this play. I feel that this production from the Theatre for a New Audience should be judged as a work of art. As everyone does not like the Mona Lisa, you cannot remove its value as art. I do not feel that you have to like a magnificent artwork but should recognize, as with this play, that you are viewing something very special. Click here for the other review .