Posts Tagged ‘Eonnagata’

Review – Eonnagata (remount) – Sylvie Guillem, Robert LePage, and Russell Maliphant at Sadler’s Wells

June 24, 2009

Last winter I spent a frustrating two weeks clicking F5 over and over again, hoping that a pair of tickets would be released for Eonnagata. I had read about this strange story – based on the the Chevalier d’Éon, a French swordsman and spy who was rumored to be both male and female (and pretending to be the other) at different points in hir life – way back in November, but found the concept rather too vague to commit to what with pantos and Nutcrackers occupying my attention; but as the first reviews (and more detail) came out, I became rather frantic to see the show – Japanese ballerina transexual samurai kung fu dance show! It was like every cultural thing I am interested in all rolled into one, and it was desperately, desperately sold out. Fortunately, they announced a second production of the show, and as it seemed to not quite hit perfection (per a critic whose opinions I value highly), I crossed my fingers that while I wouldn’t be able to see the premiere, I might be able to see an improved version of the original without the trouble of the pesky first viewing polluting me. (Really, I was just trying hard to grasp at straws about not getting those tickets.) It was a long wait until the June showtime rolled around, and last night was the great unveiling. WOOO!

Now that I’ve finally seen it, I’ll summarize the evening as “like Guillermo del Toro directing a gender-fluid, Japanese Dangerous Liasons, with fight scenes by Yuen Woo Ping.” It’s not so much a dance show as a production with movement that is just as much about costumes, lighting, and music as anything else. In fact, the dancing was rather thin. Ms. Guillem did do some great things in which her lifted legs looked like extra swords; but it was more as a part of creating a spectacle than dance. I didn’t mind, really. I was hypnotized by the gauzy kimono floating around the performers and hovering behind the creamy scrim (for a sort of human shadow puppet scene), by the strange Lincoln-log pannier skirts, by the stripey fencing pants and knee-high white boots (or stockings), by the dancers slipping across tables, duetting with mirrors (and then with each other) … I was amazed by the way they melded into each other and then were themselves again (especially when a man crawled into the shadow kimono and emerged a woman). Yeah, sure, we weren’t really sticking to the correct culture, but I was completely happy with the use of Chinese/Japanese martial arts weapons and clothing alongside 17th/18th century articles – it looked great and that was good enough for me.

And the lighting design! It helped the performers slip into and out of shadows, it let them end a scene in one spot on the stage gracefully as another “thought” started somewhere else … but my favorite bit was when all three performers were doing staff fighting in little bands of light which changed shape as their staves (or were they swords?) hit the floor – it was like something out of The Matrix or even a video game. It was, in a word, gorgeous.

Was the performance just perfect? Well, no. Russell Maliphant had a horrible clunky moment in which his microphone kept picking up the sound of his clothing dragging across it, and most of the spoken bits seemed completely superfluous and a drag on the evening. The bit where Ms. Guillem was reading letters from the Chevalier’s mother actually made me long for the end to come at last; I was getting tired. And, in the end, I’m afraid it overstayed its welcome. While I was with it for at least sixty minutes, I think around seventy its energy started to flag – and I slid downhill with it.

But, in the end, who cares how historically accurate it was or how much of a dance piece it was, it was a treat for the eyes and engaging and well worth burning a sunny evening indoors. Who knows, maybe it’s in the summer that the best theatre really happens, because that’s when only the most devoted can be convinced to spend their time this way. Overall, it was a very good evening and I’m pleased as punch that I finally got to see it.

(This review is for a performance on June 23rd, 2009. Eonnagata continues through June 27th.)

Back from vacation – June theater schedule

June 4, 2009

While I might do a writeup comparing the various aquariums I saw on my trip to other aquariums I’ve been to (and which was the best), or possibly comparing the shows at Marineworld France versus Seaworld Orlando … instead I’m catching up with work.

Theatergoing tends to slow down for me during the summer months – it’s hard to get motivated to go inside a dark theater when there are so many exciting things going on outside. (Not that Company at the Union Theatre wouldn’t get people to crawl out of their deathbeds, but it’s hard to know in advance.) I get in my usual Russian ballet treat in August, but mostly summers are more about hanging out with my friends and going to the coast.

At any rate, for readers of this blog (the five of you), what’s coming up for this month is:
7 June Sunday: Diaghilev tribute at the Royal Opera House (with a motley crew performing it)
8 June Monday: Phedre, National Theatre
9 June Tuesday: England (at the Whitechapel Gallery – site specific performance overcomes my dislike of being inside during the summer)
11 June Thurday: Been So Long at the Young Vic
13 June Saturday: Lulu, Royal Opera House
22 June Monday: Doll’s House at the Donmar
23 June Tuesday: Eonnagata, Sadler’s Wells
30 June Tuesday, the thing I’m most looking forward to: Forbidden Broadway at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Note this joke publicity feature: the National Theater has announced that two plays “from acclaimed Japanese playwright Yukio Mishima” are to be performed in London. Let’s be clear: Mishima is an acclaimed novelist, but the play most recently produced that he authored (Madame De Sade) was uniformly trashed for being, well, a piece of crap, no fault of the performers. I suspect that the producers will seriously regret taking on this project, which only really has value for noveltly. I mean, TS Eliot was a great poet, but even he wasn’t a good playwright.

Discounts on 2009 “Spring Dance at the London Coliseum”

February 28, 2009

Due to Eonnagata being sold out for its entire run at Sadler’s Wells (best hope: buy tickets for June) and my being too poor to get tickets to pretty much any plays for all of March, I’m going to fill my blog with posts on saving money on show tickets in lieu of other content. Well, actually, I think that for March you’ll also be seeing posts on Flamenco and maybe even silent movies (there is a series at the BFI called “Screen Seductresses: Vamps, Vixens and Femmes Fatales” that I’ll be hitting rather frequently), but not much for plays. That said …

American Ballet Theater is coming to the London Coliseum at the end of March (through April 4th) to present two programs: Swan Lake and Le Corsaire. Tickets are available at prices ranging from 10 to 95 quid, but for select showings of Swan Lake (Wed 25 PM, Th 26 both shows, Sunday 29 March PM show) you can get two for one tickets on the 95, 80, and 60 tickets. Similarly, Birmingham Royal Ballet is coming in April to present two programs: Pomp and Circumstances and Sylvia. Half price tickets are available for the THursday April 16th show on the 65 and 55 tickets. To get these deals, go to http://www.eno. org and use the promo code SD441A when prompted or call the box office on 0871 472 0800 and quote “postcard offer.”

Anyway, enjoy! I don’t have a spare 60 for March (two blow on one evening versus three), but it’s my hope that by April I’ll have enough pennies scraped together to go see the Pomp and Circumstances show, as I like Birmingham Royal Ballet a lot.