Theater archives

Misery Proves a Companionable Muse for Tatelbaum


Kara Tatelbaum can parlay melancholy and misery into performance fodder—a good thing since her apartment went up in flames last year. The event inspired Inferno, featuring Tatelbaum tethered to a chair in a state of helplessness; she screamed silently and quaked with panic, impotent as a fire safety film tauntingly washed over her. In Desiderata, Tatelbaum plumbed a dark, unspecified psychological condition, shifting from compulsive scratches and twitches to a happier, albeit zombie-like, dream state. She threw out any remaining inhibitions in Grounded, behaving like a zanily crazed street person—feet planted as if plugged into the ground, her upper body and pelvis registering tics and electric jolts. Echoing circular motifs dotted an excerpt from the appealingly lyrical Erasing the thin blue line, performed with lush abandon by Isadora Wolfe. Best Friend for Sale, a perky duet, lacked the psychological gravitas of the other works. For Tatelbaum, darker is better.