The Road Worrier


The eccentric, mustachioed man in black presses his face to the mirrored wall where it meets the rear of the stage. As he rotates and flutters his hands, suggestive shadows form and reform in the corner. The interplay of movement, light, and reflection fascinates. This moment also stands out as the first— and only— time The Traveler (Exit Art) takes full advantage of the mirrored surround that is a major part of its raison d’être.

Papo Colo performs the title character as a kind of middle-aged Mediterranean everyman. During short scenes marked off by blackouts, he paces with a suitcase, arranges stones, and contorts himself in intensely choreographed, often minute motions. These movements are accompanied by his recorded voice reciting poems and exotic stringed or percussive music. Circles and other light designs follow him, and his image can be seen duplicating itself into the mirrored distance.

At first you watch with interest. The businessman and his briefcase are caught in a rush of projected scenery as if they are speeding along on a ghost train. In another scene, the man deploys various balls to juggle the metaphoric and literal possibilities of spheres. He dances à la Zorba the Greek, shaking red lightbulbs like maracas in the dark. But the visual tricks grow tedious, illustrating poems so abstract (“Time,” “Words,” “The Body”) that they offer little to hang on to— except the generic angst of existence. The piece plods along, ponderous and purposely grotesque, punctuated with anguished exclamations— an often incomprehensible spectacle without tension or pacing. Colo, who directs himself as well as writes his own material, might well lament being trapped in this claustrophobic reality.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 2, 1999

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