Thursday, November 30, 2017

BAM Next Wave presents "Haruki Murakami's Sleep"

from Haruki Murakami's Sleep
(photos: Julia Cervantes)

If you did not sleep for seventeen nights, wouldn't you be terrified? Jiehae Park doesn't look a bit frightened, though, when we first find the actress portraying "Woman," a Japanese housewife and mother, in Haruki Murakami's Sleep, presented by BAM Next Wave.

She's calmly, evenly performing a dry ritual--logical gestures and motions of everyday life in the everyday world, hands purposeful, smooth and deft. Where are the items her hands would actually touch and handle? From our point of entry and view, they are invisible. The box that houses her--taking up not quite all the width of BAM Fisher's Fishman Space--is open to the front and contains only a few, simple, representative things. A chair, a standing lamp. Normal enough. Normal be suspect.

With the audience fully assembled and houselights lowered, Park begins to address her sleeplessness and its cause. But, under a cool wash of light, her affect hints at fiery excitement. Her face betrays it; her speech races. What might be a source of legitimate concern for any one of us has become, for her, a portal to freedom. She relishes it.

Rachel Dickstein shares directing and choreographic credit with her Brooklyn-based Ripe Time troupe. With a luscious live soundscape by NewBorn Trio and an adaptation by playwright Naomi Iizuka of Murakami's short story, "Sleep," the production draws our eyes and ears into an internal world splintered and continuously shuffled like a deck of cards.

A husband slips into and out of the box--a dentist, nothing more down to earth than that--but he is clearly archetypal "Husband" as he exists inside "Woman's" head. And that head can produce more apparitions through the visual magic wrought by Dickstein's design team and the troupe's physical theater strategies. There are clever projections and material embodiments of "Child," "Shadow," "Anna Karenina"--a character lifted from Woman's daily reading--and other beings and other selves. And a floor board that can detach to become a table. And a table, tilted onto one edge, that still functions as a table you might sit to and gaze across because you see what you choose to believe.

She was not herself.

But no one has to know.

Woman awoke, one day, with one foot still anchored in a dream and chose this situation as a way to survive. An alluring time out of time for Woman becomes one for us as well.

Set design: Susan Zeeman Rogers
Projections design: Hannah Wasileski
Lighting design: Jiyoun Chang
Sound design: Matt Stine
Costume design: Ilona Somogyi

Haruki Murakami's Sleep continues tonight through Saturday, December 2 with evening performances at 7:30pm and an additional 2:30 matinee on Saturday. For information and tickets, click here.

BAM Fisher
321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn

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