Lovemushroom Press
October 26, 2003

Los Angeles Times Dance Review : Ramayana 2K2

Los Angeles Times
October 26, 2002

It's myth on the move

"Fabulous Monsters Performance Group uses varied styles and mediums to retell an ancient story in 'Ramayana 2K2." By Lewis Segal, LA Times Staff Writer

Ancient myth meets techno music and eclectic contemporary dance in "Ramayana 2K2," a loving, overly detailed retelling by the locally based Fabulous Monsters Performance Group at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.

Premiered Thursday with numerous technical glitches but an endearing sweetness of spirit, this 2 1/2-hour essay in cross-cultural movement theater used onstage narrators and recorded dialogue to convey the plot specifics embellished in a rich array of styles by choreographer Stephen Hues and fight choreographer Richie C. Marin. From belly dance to hip-hop, pole-fighting to attack gymnastics, this "Ramayana" had abundant movement resources in its arsenal.

However, writer-director Robert A. Prior included so much expository text, and so many marginal episodes, that the story as a whole never really came alive.

Even the final scenes became overburdened by talky explanations and only a few gestural passages (the monkey Hanuman meeting the imprisoned Sita, for example) achieved the immediacy and emotional power that any "Ramayana" should generate.

Happily, the attractive, tireless 18-member cast kept the dancing, fighting and mime full of feeling, with Rich Welmers (Rama) looking as elegantly attenuated as a Javanese rod puppet and Anahata Spurkel (Sita) exuding a serene eroticism that made the war fought over her entirely plausible.

Managing to look menacing and even a mite depraved in the world's tackiest bathrobe, Will Watkins (Ravana) supplied unfailingly juicy, over-the-top villainy. In contrast, the deft, understated physical comedy of Ari Jamon (Hanuman), the relaxed nobility of Carlos Madrid Mora (Lakshman) and the pointed intelligence of Alexandra Saalik (co-narrator and three secondary roles) ably supported the more flamboyant portrayals.

Projections by Yo Suzuki(Lovemushroom Studio) bathed the cast in vibrating colors and music from two-dozen sources established an exotic, contemporary soundscape.

©LA Times