note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Larry Stark
Dramaturge Robert Lubin
Lighting Design by Kristin Hayes
Master Electrician Erik Fox
Production Manager Natalie Valandigham
Ruby Rose Fox
As we left the theatre, a falling mist had hung every bare twig with a dewdrop that twinkled in the streetlights. By dawn they will all have frozen into crystal diamonds. The glass door before we waited for a bus superimposed a reflection of those trees on the composition of a grey-carpeted staircase. Great theater tends to pry open the eyes as well as the mind, making everything look --- and feel --- different. Was the little over an hour of "Crying Deer" theater? or dance? a movement-piece? The Grotowski-inspired show had a jazz drum-set and a saxophone in the playing-space as it started, with an almost imperceptible breathing sound, before the three participants came through a break in the backdrop and single-filed slowly, expressively between two huge ruddy squares hung as background.
What happened? Nothing --- and everything, through slow movement, confrontation, conflict and resolution, shouts and wordless screams (Well, it ended with the chant-singing of a poem by Rumi, but in Farsi, not English.), battles and deaths and slow coaxings back into life. Music became a weapon, and a loving grace. Bodies and faces contorted in unexpected patterns of enigmatic emotion. Forces were unleashed and resolved, hands joined --- often without even touching.
To my mind Chris Punis was an antagonist, all brute force and triumph. His deadly drumming and tinkling restorative cymbals made him at times satanic, or saintly.
Tiny Ruby Rose Fox's tensely contorting body and quicksilver face, her slow shrieks and moans were riveting. She used the saxophone to battle the drums, to cajole, to charm, to resurrect, to unify.
Mazdak Mirabedini I saw as a yearner, always reaching for something never quite grasped, vulnerable. At final resolution, as the other two united their eager hands, his whispering, murmuring, singing the words of Rumi called down a fulfilling power, until his own cupped hands placed within theirs an invisible globe of godliness.
That's what I saw.
The BCA's Plaza space tonight held only a dozen or less, almost all of whom seemed friends of the company --- but they sat, rapt and silent throughout and reluctant to break the show's spell even as the spirits clothed in flesh we had been seeing returned for a finally applauded bow.
Maybe as someone said of poetry, a theater-piece should not "mean" but merely "be"; maybe everyone in the room saw a different show. Of Rumi they say his poems poured the sea of Islam into the ocean of Hinduism and thus irrigated the universe. And they say that writing love-poems and writing hymns are equal in the eye of God --- but only if the hymns are really good enough.
And maybe I should read the notes about the play in the program. Even then, I doubt I'll really learn what the title "Crying Deer" is "s'posed" to mean. Frankly, if such an artistic experience can make tonight's ice-glazed world glow with beauty and wonder, well, I don't give a damn what they call it.
But you should see it for yourself, before it disappears. It's a great beginning for a new year.