Sundown in Luv

(il)logical, “a play on love” ran at the Green Space Arts Collective in Denton TX through August 29, 2010.  Marjorie Hayes’ guest review of Sundown Collaborative Theatre‘s production follows.

The ambition of Sundown Collaborative Theatre’s latest offering displays the primal urge to create that rests in us all.  Where does that come from?  Love.  To love and be loved is the unspoken goal of every human being.   This ambitious and diverse ensemble creates gratifying theatre from nothing.  With minimal technical support, but savvy theatrical technique, (il)logical weaves a collage of images from the world of youthful romantic love.

Unrelated scenes unfold using movement, dance, contact improv, verbal improvisation, contemporary song, and silence.   Conceived by Olivia de Guzman Emile, George Ferrie, Cody Lucas and Tashina Richardson, they explore love as an Expressionist painter would, seeking an emotional effect from the ensemble’s personal experiences.  Actors in basic black with a defining piece of color move freely, coupling and uncoupling, straight and gay, exploring the road between embraces and fights, meetings and partings.  Speaking in gibberish, Robert Linder à la a Japanese dating game show host, leads us on a wild ride as the winner wrestles a crocodile.  Later a single game time clock symbolizes the chess match between two gay lovers.  Lucas and Brittany Willis finally overcome their “obstacles,” played by the ensemble, in a finely crafted reunion scene.  Summer Banks and Zaire Adams sing Dylan’s words “I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue; I’d go crawling down the avenue; There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do; To make you feel my love.”  (il)logical makes us remember those crazed moments of excess.  This leitmotif occurs again in Emile’s haunting singing of 1000 Miles Away: ”But love is not a rational thing, and my heart is beyond advice.”  The penultimate scene is backed by Johnny Cash’s unsentimental and heart wrenching cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”  Richardson and Ferrie just stand and face forward.  As they let the music sink in, their faces crumble and their hands reach across an expanse of empty space to touch.  Simple and eloquently done.

Sundown’s energy and commitment trumps limited scenic, costume and technical elements (despite efforts by designers Gillian Kitchen, Natalie Taylor and Sarah Smith).  Some of the young actors still need to develop greater emotional depth and physical responsiveness. And overall there is a tendency for vignettes to dwell in the pain of love rather than other aspects of love.  However, the main players of the evening, Richardson, Emile, Lucas and Ferrie provide the emotional depth that the loose narratives need to make (il)logical a fulfilling evening of theatre.

Sundown has the broadest scope of the young theatre ensembles in the DFW area.  Not satisfied with just presenting realistic productions of gritty hyperrealism, they have taken on Shakespeare, Sartre, farce, and now developed a movement based collective creation in the Open Theatre vein. Seasoned actors from the lower parts of the metroplex need to look to this northern company for meaty work. Sundown needs to consider taking their work down to the city for appreciation by a wider audience. Later this season Richardson directs Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis.  Get your tickets now. 214-729-0313

Photos: #1–Brittany WIllis, Jenny Fitzgerald, Robert Linder, David Hanna, Summer Banks, Cody Lucas, Tashina Richardson, George Ferrie, Olivia Emile, Zaire Adams

#2 — Olivia Emile, Cody Lucas

Marjorie Hayes is an international performance artist, director and coach, currently a professor in the University of North Texas theatre program. Her solo cabaret “Taking Chances” played to enthused audiences and critical acclaim in LA and NYC this past summer.

What’s “The Open Theatre”? Here’s a Wikipedia overview:

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