Marrying the Arts

Subtle Dramas in a Snowy Land, Across a Table, and in Kentucky Caves

But there are sharply direct images, too. Daniel Charon scampers about—a quick-footed dancing fool—while above him, the huge figures of Natalie Desch, Faye Driscoll, and Adriane Fang lip-synch the song right at him. Driscoll and John Besant III sit side by side on chairs and screw their mouths into bizarre shapes; it takes a while to realize that they think they're singing. And there's some terrific dancing: Fang, Desch, and Driscoll, flinging around in solos, are marvels of wild-legged vehemence.

We get hints of relationships and are not surprised when Driscoll strips off her dress and walks out. In Part II, the concealed drama burgeons with the harsh instrumental music of Gaétan Leboeuf. Allen Moyer's worn little cottages, a bit bigger than doghouses, keep reconfiguring the space, along with Jane Cox's lighting. Although Varone begins with a marvelous scary dance in which all these folks' uglies seem to be invading their limbs, he relies on gestures, simple actions, pantomime, and mouthed dialogue to mine jealousies, bitterness, and prejudice lying as deep as the coal these God-fearing people dig. (The vicious treatment of the two Asians—Fang and Eddie Taketa—seems out of key with the first part.) Literalness is a pitfall. The complex, ripple-spreading passions that link Nina Watt, Larry Hahn, and Desch are gripping and beautifully performed; yet without words, there are only so many ways to stare and turn aside, to push and pull, to embrace and thrust away.

All the leaves are brown: Keenlyside, Norton (center, behind), and Popkin in Winterreise.
photo: Richard Termine
All the leaves are brown: Keenlyside, Norton (center, behind), and Popkin in Winterreise.

Related Article:
"The Moving Pencil Writes: Meredith Monk Sinks Her Music Into Human Archetypes of Sadness and Comfort" by Kyle Gann

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