Maybe I should have been warned when I read in the description of Lucky Plush’s The Better Half that it aimed for “presence in real-time real space with the audience.”
The theater/dance work is a narrative in which the performers aren’t quite sure who they are or what they are meant to do next, although as far as we can tell this isn’t a chance performance where they don’t actually know what’s going they’re to do next. They know what to do, but aren’t given all that much to do and don’t do it particularly well. The work is connected to what might be an exploration of the 1944 film noir thriller Gaslight, but there’s nothing noir or film-like about the piece.
We’re introduced to the characters, as are the actors/dancers who express general frustration, sometimes shown when they bring in their own scripts from other sources. (They tell us what these are, but that doesn’t help much and doesn’t give the audience much credit.) As actors, the cast members are pretty good dancers and as dancers they are OK actors. They may be great actors and dancers, but this work just doesn’t give them a chance to show it.
(If the creators want to get an idea of how to play with shifting scripts and characters they should go see Venus in Fur at Threshold Rep.)
Such small dance/theater pieces have in the past been some of the festival’s most amazing offerings. It’s such a let down that this year’s single such work is so amateurish.
After that a nice concert by Johnnyswim in the Cistern seemed like a good idea. And it was. The Cistern was beautiful as always, the crowd warm and nice as was the band led by husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano. Nice, warm, completely safe, and pretty darn contrived and boring.
We slept well.