Dec 9, 2003
BackStage Review : Ramayana 2K3
... Yo Suzuki's (Lovemushroom Studio) projections combine kaleidoscopic
animations, which give the piece a wondrous celestial quality,
with photographs and video that allow the audience to experience
the play's earthbound action... "
- Andy Propst, BackStage
December 09, 2003
Reviewed by Andy Propst
"Ramayana 2K3", Robert A. Prior's "electronica dance drama" retelling of the Hindy legend of Rama, elicits more genuine visceral thrills than many of it's larger cousins on Broadway this fall.
Writer and director Prior and choreographer Stephen Hues use a wide range of performance styles and media to bring the Rama myth to the stage. Narrative using shadow puppetry techniques can give way to an elegantly choreographed masque, which can lead into a scene in which acrobatics thrill the audience.
Yo Suzuki's (Lovemushroom Studio) projections combine kaleidoscopic animations, which give the piece a wondrous celestial quality, with photographs and video that allow the audience to experience the play's earthbound action. Original electronic music by 20 artists, augmented by live performance on tabla by Abhiman Kaushal, adds to the piece's heart-pounding and otherworldly feel.
A company of 22 enacts the play's sprawling action, from court solemnities to battles between mystical monkeys and giants (grandly brought to life by actors on stilts). The action is narrated persuasively by Tim Ottman and Alexandra Saalik(who doubles as an imposingly wicked stepmother), while the characters' lines are heard in voice-overs.
Prior, collaborating with Lisa Leighton, has created a dazzling array of costumes, from the elegant golden sarong worn by Anahata (who brings the piece's heroine to life with alluring intelligence) to the gnarled headdress sported by Will Watkins' superbly erotic and demonic Ravana.
Amont those working on the side of eil are various characters played with luscious venom by Desiree V. Castro. Battling Ravana's evil is Rama (imbued with heroic serenity by Rich Welmers) and Rama's brother-in-arms, Lakshman (brought to life with graceful athleticism by Carlos Madrid Mora). These two are assisted by Hanuman (Jon Morris in a comical turn that delights). In many ways, he's the clown in this Hindu-inspired, grandly ambitious, and thrillingly succesful cirque.
La MaMa E.T.C.