Saturday, September 10, 2016

Verdensteatret's latest show leaves question marks

Verdensteatret's Bridge Over Mud
(photo courtesy of Verdensteatret)

Having seen Verdensteatret's wondrous audiovisual fantasia, And All the Question Marks Started to Sing (Dance Theater Workshop, 2011, review posted here), I looked forward to Bridge Over Mud, the Norwegian art collective's US premiere at BAM Next Wave. First shown in 2014 in Oslo, this award-winning production has some of the enchantments of Question Mark. It boldly engulfs and transforms its space, filling it with a combination of cleverly re-purposed objects, looming video imagery and otherworldly sounds, some played or vocalized live. Viewers may feel as if they have pulled chairs up to the edge of a dream an intelligent, sleeping machine might be having as its brain processes the multitude of physical things and environments--humans, not so much--that it has dealt with throughout its day and down through time.

The hour seems long. Bridge Over Mud strikes me as far murkier and less inviting than Question Mark, if no less strange. The looming, advancing shadows, the massive sculpted sliding panels, the mysterious imagery in the background are items that we in the audience regard and check off from an emotionally-glazed distance. I did initially enjoy the model train engines snaking along 195 feet of track throughout the space but got distracted recalling that I never had model trains as a child. But, at least, that memory formed a momentary bridge to what I was seeing. Dangling from flies to floor, giant strands of Polynesian leis--apparently made of tiles simulating puka shells--seemed at variance with the overall funereal atmosphere. But then, this is the machine's dream, and maybe only the machine can sort it all out.

Presented here in association with Wayne Ashley's provocative FuturePerfect Productions, Verdensteatret is Asle Nilsen, Lisbeth J. Bodd, Piotr Pajchel, Eirik Blekesaune, Ali Djabbary, Martin Taxt, Espen Sommer Eide, Torgrim Torve, Elisabeth Gmeiner, Niklas Adam, Kristine Sandøy, Thorolf Thuestad, Janne Kruse, Laurent Ravot and Benjamin Nelson.

Bridge Over Mud concludes tonight but is sold out. For information and standby ticket details, click here.

BAM Fishman Space

BAM Fisher/Fishman Space
321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn

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