Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Princes of Darkness (Dream up Festival at Theatre for the New City and Razors Edge Productions)

By Rebecca N. Robertson

Princes of Darkness is a jack-in-the-box of existential angst, a Lynchian montage of lonely neuroses colored in grays, light and bright red sins. The production incorporates a film noir style of redundant action -- a cruel microscope on the creased cheek of lost vitality, empathy, sanity -- and the visual elements of a moth-eaten vaudevillian trunk show.

As we sit in the dark with our strange host, Satan conjures up three tragic characters to illustrate their shortcomings for the next "Ruler of the World" and insists that his audience consider the job, as well. Director/Designer Rachel Klein has structured the production on deliberate choreography with elaborate sequenced gestures and prop-heavy bits that, while a good showcase for her talent as a movement artist and concept director, seem to draw the actor's efforts away from storytelling. Writer/performer Bill Connington appears set on an attempt to seduce us with a characterization of Satan as dashing trickster, philosopher, and scenery chomper, a figure who will steal our souls by encouraging us to indulge our hubris. Despite heavy borrowing of text and characters from classic literature, his protagonist fails to charm us with words, and the higher purpose of the text, a difficult task, seems muddied.

Meanwhile, as we attempt to dissect the patterns his uneasy soft-shoe has left in the dust, or guess the next magician's shop trick (perhaps a rabbit from a hat?) he will next deploy, we discover that we have dropped our guard in this sacred space to a conniving entity we thought benign and obsolete. He has caused us to let him into our minds, if only for a moment, and let him dance around that voyeuristic center of human fecundity, his songs ringing sharply between our teeth. (Cue evil laugh. Lights flicker and fade. Darkness.)

Princes of Darkness
Written and Performed by Bill Connington
Director and Choreographer: Rachel Klein
Lighting Design: Kia Rogers
Sound Design: Sean Gill
Costume Design: Rachel Klein

Theatre for the New City
155 1st Avenue

Sunday, August 8: 7:00pm
Wednesday, August 11: 9:00pm
Thursday, August 12: 9:00pm
Friday, August 13: 9:00pm
Saturday, August 14: 7:00pm

No comments: