Troy Foundry’s Beckett evening a stunner

0

TROY — The avant-garde Troy Foundry Theatre is conjuring an hourlong mass hallucination inside the Hart Cluett Museum courtesy of the company’s artistic forebear Samuel Beckett. If you care about Beckett, or theater, or mass hallucinations, go see it before this extraordinary evening closes on June 18.

Titled “Echo Chambers: Beckett3” and presented as three short plays each featuring a different solo female character, the production is profoundly dark, visually and metaphorically. Challenging theater to be sure — unsettling to watch, often a puzzle to follow, resistant to easy interpretation — it is immensely rewarding as well, with the precision, haunting beauty and ineffability of a requiem for human existence.

In “Footfalls,” written in 1975, a woman named May (Angelique Powell, directed by Ethan Botwick) walks back and forth across the same path on a barely illuminated stage: nine metronomically precise paces one way, nine the other, each of the amplified footsteps diminishing in volume as she talks to the disembodied voice of her 90-year-old mother, who may be bedridden in another room or a creation of May’s troubled mind.

“Rockaby,” from 1980, finds a character identified only as W (Eliana Rowe, directing herself) on a similarly dark stage but without the freedom to walk. She’s moored to a rocking chair that moves without evident effort from her feet, which remain visible and motionless on the footrest. Her own monotone recorded voice plays, sometimes with W echoing or harmonizing with the words, as she recounts moments from her life and that of her dead mother.

Given the strength of the acting, directing, Botwick’s lighting and the sound design by Travis Wright, the effect of the two is powerfully cumulative, building a feeling of unease and a fear of being trapped by monotony akin to purgatory on Earth — a frequent theme of Beckett’s, whose Paris apartment overlooked a prison yard. Performed in front of a black set that is meant to evoke the abstract, box-form sculptures of the artist Louise Nevelson (design by Colin McIlvaine, execution by Andy Smith of Upstate Scenic), they’re a smartly crafted way to lead up to the walloping end to “Echo Chambers,” Shannon Rafferty performing “Not I.”

Famously difficult, for actor even more than audience, “Not I,” from 1972, is a primal scream of a monologue. For 12 minutes in a pitch-black theater, you look at nothing but an illuminated mouth speaking furiously, a fusillade of words that repeats, circles back on itself and echoes and amplifies as it describes the life of the woman, who as a child was abandoned by her parents to a miserable existence that included unspecified trauma. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned during multiple viewings over the years, but that could be wildly wrong.

Rafferty’s performance is mesmerizing in the moment, haunting in memory, its phantasmagoria of syllable and diction erupting from a dynamic maw. As a slight criticism, the tiny spotlight on the mouth dimmed to near-invisibility at times during Monday’s performance. If an error, it’s correctable; if intentional, it diminishes the experience by making the audience strain so hard to see.

That is but a minor quibble. The initial success of “Echo Chambers: Beckett3” is that it exists at all. The Beckett works are brutally uncommercial, seemingly beyond the abilities of a community theater and fiscally risky for a more mainstream organization that needs to be mindful of a significant subscriber base. The larger success of the production is how well Troy Foundry executes it. As the company did with its opening production in 2017, an evening of Harold Pinter shorts, and six Beckett one-acts the following fall, Troy Foundry is using the masters of modern theater as the foundational aesthetic for its own experimental work. It ranges widely in those original pieces, sometimes with frustrating results, but when the company returns to its roots, Troy Foundry again shows why it’s an important presence in Capital Region theater.  

 

 

 

 

“Echo Chambers: Beckett3

When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Troy Foundry Theatre at Hart Cluett Museum, 57 Second St., Troy
Running time: 55 minutes, with no intermission
Continues: 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, June 7 to 11; and Wednesday to Saturday, June 15 to 18
Tickets: $25 ($15 students and seniors)
Info: troyfoundrytheatre.com/programming


FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS

 

Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Vigour Times is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment
Enable Notifications    OK No thanks