Hilary Easton and Amanda Loulaki Delve Into Couples

Pairs who love, fight, and stay together. Or not.

Perhaps Brooks’s absence clouds apects of Loulaki’s intent, but, while I Am Saying Goodnight is sometimes baffling, its furious, purgative thrust is not. Pedro Osorio clearly represents one half of a deteriorating relationship, while Carolyn Hall and Rebecca Serrell Cyr (like Osorio, terrific longtime colleagues of Loulaki’s) could stand for loving friends as well as aspects of Loulaki’s character—She Who Was Deserted. It is Hall who reads a list of the body’s interior—its blood vessels, its organs—but it’s Loulaki who, in a dialogue with her own taped voice, says, “I love you so much that I would like to put my hands in your intestines.” Cyr and Osorio, partially disrobing as they go, pull their shirts up and over their heads and then—blinded by the fabric—lock necks and struggle together on the floor. Cyr whips Osorio with a length of theraband, Hall lashes one of P.S.122’s pillars with it, addressing the absent partner with such sentences as “Your hand, followed by your arm. . .rips out my stomach.”

Certain scenes sear the brain. Cyr duets with a two-foot skeleton—lying beside it, cuddling it as if it were a baby in need of soothing, but also holding it by the head and spinning the rest of it. She and Loulaki, stripped down to trunks, creep and slide over the floor—side by side like two exhausted animals. For a moment, when they sit back to back, Loulaki examines her fingernails (remembering feminine wiles? checking the growth of claws?). As the women advance on hands and knees, butts in the air, Cyr puts one hand over one of Loulaki’s; joined like this, they crawl right out the door of the performance space.

For what seems like a long time, Hall squats—feet together, arms outspread—trying to balance on a tiny spot of floor; later Osorio tries the same feat. But the relationship the piece is exploring has gone way beyond a balancing act. In a scene that comes later, Osorio dances, flailing his arms (later still he shakes himself like a mad dog), then calms down to speak quietly in Spanish to an imaginary person in front of him. The fact that he’s squatting suggests a gambit, as if the person he’s addressing were an argumentative, near-hysterical child to be managed. He brings up all the expected clichés of domestic meltdown: “Listen to me. Just listen. We have to talk.” He says that this isn’t her fault or his, that they are “civilized people.” Loulaki, who has entered—fully clad again and wearing wedgies—watches him silently and slowly pulls up her blouse to show him her breasts. Civilized? Is he kidding?

Michael Inge and Emily Pope-Blackman in Hilary Easton’s Light and Shade
Joshua McHugh
Michael Inge and Emily Pope-Blackman in Hilary Easton’s Light and Shade
Amanda Loulaki in her I Am Saying Goodnight
Liz Liguori
Amanda Loulaki in her I Am Saying Goodnight

Details

Hilary Easton + Company
Baryshnikov Arts Center
October 14 through 16
Amanda Loulaki & Short Mean Lady
Performance Space 122
October 13 through 16

Loulaki’s protagonist may be saying good night in capital letters, but catharsis, while hinted at, is a hard-won thing. So is putting yourself back together when you feel you’ve been torn apart. I guess that’s what this fearless, ripped-up work is trying to tell us.

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