Jo Tomalin


Cal Performances Quote Unquote Collective Mouthpiece 2 Brooke Wedlock E1553715333116

Quote Unquote Collective’s Mouthpiece

above: Pictured: Quote Unquote Collective performs Mouthpiece Friday–Sunday, March 22–24, 2019 in the Zellerbach Playhouse.  (credit: Brooke Wedlock)

Pictured: Quote Unquote Collective performs Mouthpiece Friday–Sunday, March 22–24, 2019
in the Zellerbach Playhouse. (credit: Joel Clifton)

Mouthpiece, directed by Amy Nostbakken of Quote Unquote Collective in Association with Why Not Theatre ran March 22-23, 2019 at Zellerbach Playhouse, Berkeley, produced by Cal Performances. Created and performed by Nostbakken and Norah Sadava – two award-winning directors, writers, performers, both are also co-Artistic directors of Quote Unquote Collective.

The sixty minute original physical theatre performance without intermission follows one woman’s experiences as she tries to find her own voice immediately after her mother’s death. There are things to do and this woman works through her innermost thoughts seeking strength. Nostbakken and Sadava approach this premise through the complexity of the female psyche in an entirely original way, which is curious, intricately written, inventively performed and wildly entertaining!

A pristine white bathtub comprises the aesthetically pleasing, and surprising set, surrounded by darkness. The atmosphere changes as Nostbakken and Sadava, wearing white bathing suits, perform on, in and around the tub. Limbs entangle and expertly untangle in economic and elegant choreography as they each speak or vocalize, occasionally leaving the territory of the set piece for a variety of reasons, some poignant, some humorous, all meaningful and they drive the story forward very effectively.

Nostbakken and Sadeva complement each other perfectly in the physical storytelling when moving as well as speaking together. They strut, screech now and again, wax melodic, balance, fold and sink, creating an allegorical expression of the bereft woman and her challenges. Mimetic qualities and idiosyncratic turns of phrase are captivating as they bring to life quirky characters when they speak, sing, harmonize and laugh together. Their humor, grace and perfect timing evoke characters in realistic to nostalgic moments, in short dialogues using different accents, as they examine feminist words and what makes a feminist voice. Stylized staging and Nostbakken’s creative direction transport us into the inner life and outer reality of one specific woman’s life so far, giving a hint of what is to come – and resonates universally and deeply.

Lighting design by André du Toit effectively creates spaces beyond the stage, and the ubiquitous darkness, which adds so much to the mysterious atmosphere. 

Mouthpiece is dramatic, tender, poignant and funny, it’s also extremely original, provocative and beautifully performed. Highly Recommended!

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Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance, Theatre & Physical Theatre Performances
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