13th Floor + Twisted Oak present “An Evening of Fantastical Physical Theater”
13th Floor + Twisted Oak present “An Evening of Fantastical Physical Theater”. ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.
13th Floor and Twisted Oak dance companies have collaborated on one of the most spectacular physical theater performances I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Each company presented a 40-minute piece that skillfully blended narrative storytelling with sublime character-based movement.
First up was 13th Floor and their presentation of Lightning Strikes Anonymous, a re-working of an earlier 2010 version written by Founder and Artistic Director Jenny McAllister. The dark comedy revolves around five quirky characters of a support group and their unique addiction to being struck by lightning. Lonely Juliet (Julie Mahoney), is living with her kitty and has moved onto large appliances, particularly the coffee pot in the support group space. John (David Silpa) has been hit by lightning so many times, he’s lost all touch with people for fear of shorting them out. Blake (Colin Epstein) and Iris (Jenny McAllister) are a dysfunctional couple, hooked on having sex while waiting to be struck. Finally, there’s Paul (Zack Fischer), compelled to attend as part of a parole agreement, but a lightning addict as well.
As each character relates their sad stories, they move in beautifully choreographed athletic movements. The actors are adept at acrobatics, fight choreography and riffs on simple human movements. The result is stunning. The interactions between characters is flawless with many striking images like when they all lick their fingers and reach toward the sky in a haunting reflection of their desire to be struck.
McAllister’s script is as delightful, original and moving as are her characters. John, who had disastrous interactions with ATMs has 20 dollar bills fused to his chest, another reason for his isolation. Iris is the most resistant to curing her addiction for its fills an emotional and sexual void. Paul, the horny comic foil, eagerly pursues a three-way strike with Iris and Blake. John and Juliet find solace together is their recovery and desire for human interaction.
I was fascinated by this piece. It incorporates the best of theatre – original thought, sparkling wit and well-structured narrative. But 13th Floor elevates it to a higher plane with the addition of movement. Lighting designer Delayne Medoff and McAllister’s sound design are striking, raising this piece to perfection.
The second piece was Twisted Oaks Fortune’s Fool: A Monster’s Odyssey, based on mythology merged with spectacular acrobatic skills. Without any dialogue, the actors take the audience on a thrilling ride that escalated sequence by sequence into a breathtaking finale. The story follows the grotesquely deformed Strife (Slater Penney), son of Chaos and Circe (Kai Bluestar) on his quest through the Underworld, the false paradise of the ecstasy seeking Lotus Eaters, to the grand finale of his encounter with the Weaver (Althea Young), who toys with people’s lives for her own amusement.
This piece highlights the troupe’s incredible circus skills, from club juggling, ring tossing, hoops, contortion and aerial tissu. Directed by Amelia Adams with a lively score by Aaron Gold, the movement flows with an energy that steals your breath away. Once again, the dramatic lighting is by Delayne Medoff with sensational costumes by Jennifer Schmidt. Colin Epstein’s choreography is fluid and athletic. There are many sensational sequences in A Monster’s Odyssey: the comic pantomime of the Lotus Eaters featuring Jaime Coventry and Natasha Kaluza, the mesmerizing hoop number and Althea Young’s tissu finale were outstanding. The performances by the ensemble (Colin Epstein, Maria Grace, Zack Fischer, Natasha Kaluza and Shira Yaziv) were all stellar.
These two pieces showcased the finest of Bay Area physical theater. If you’re in the mood for stunning imagery, powerful dance movements, original concepts and extremely high talent levels, run to see this show before it closes.
Performance run through March 4th, 2017 www.odc.dance/tickets 415.549.8519