Half Straddle, Versus, Silver Stars and Invisible Atom
Saturday evening we went to see three shows – Half Straddle Sings at Home Sweet Home Bar and two shows at Under the Radar – Versus and Silver Stars. It was an interesting and eclectic mix.
Half Straddle is a scrappy young company helmed by playwright/director Tina Satter with a decidedly downtown DIY aesthetic. Half Straddle Sings was a cabaret-style selection of songs from their various shows. I had heard good things about their show FAMILY at Ontological but didn’t get to see it, so I thought I’d check out this APAP-season songfest. I was charmed by the lo-fi sets and costumes, the company’s energy and commitment. The musical styles run the gamut from synth pop to a very beautiful alt-country type number called “Stonewalls of My Heart” sung by Rae C. Wright that reminded me of EmmyLou Harris singing with Gram Parsons. The subject matter ranged from devastated werewolves to nurses of New England, and every song is a little story unto itself. If you’re known by the company you keep then the presence of guests like Joseph Keckler, Heather Christian and Becky Yamamoto demonstrates that Half Straddle has an eclectic and talented circle of friends that will no doubt continue to contribute to their growing repertoire. Half Straddle is like that smart, “weird” indie rock alternagrrrl in high school who starts a zine and is into cool stuff and crafts and is always sneaking off into the city to hang out with grown-ups. It’ll be interesting to watch her as she grows – we expect good things.
After Half Straddle we hightailed it over to the The Public to see Versus – In The Jungle of Cities. This was another young company but doing very different and very Serious work. They have adapted Brecht’s In the Jungle of Cities, tracing a figurative wrestling match that arises inexplicably between two men in the big city using only four actors and minimal staging. It was presented in Polish with English subtitles which, to be honest, was a little troubling. The translation was kind of stilted and it was hard to follow the supertitles and watch the show at the same time. Also, you know the Polish and their Grotowski obsession. Always trying to get to some physicalized essential human state of being. It was inventive at times, other times it felt like a strain. Still the actors were game for anything and while I wasn’t overwhelmed by the show as a whole, I was won over by their hard work.
After seeing two young companies back to back it was a change of pace to see a company made up of middle aged (and older) Irish gay gentleman in the song cycle Silver Stars. Featuring a community chorus, Silver Stars tells the truly real-life stories of ordinary men in a country that was challenged by their very existence. There was something very charming and touching about the show – especially as it is acted by non-performers which brings a sense of authenticity to the material. It wasn’t a revelatory experience but it was heartfelt and earnest and very meaningful to the audience that had come to the show.
Sunday we went to go see Invisible Atom – another show that was sincere if not revelatory. The show is a somewhat predictable solo about a man in crisis. His name is Atom and he works in the financial sector. He starts to question the meaning of it all and things fall apart. The monologue finds him in frozen moment as “the normally reliable laws of motion and matter dissolve.” The show is well-performed and staged and moves at a good pace, but it isn’t strikingly experimental or shocking. But you know, its from Canada. (Ooooh! picking on Canada!)
Anyway – we’re going to try and see some more shows tonight and throughout the rest of the week Will keep you posted.