Lovemushroom Press
November 26, 2003

New York Times Theater Review : Ramayana 2K3

New York Times
November 26, 2003

Electronics and Athletics Transform an Ancient Epic
Ramayana 2K3

There is an occasional stretch of incoherence but plenty to dazzle the eye and ear in "Ramayana 2K3," a telling of the Ramayana epic from South Asia that uses acrobats, shadow puppets, electronically enhanced voices, some frightening video and assorted other energetic tricks.

The production, billed as "an electronica dance drama in two acts," is by the performance troupe Fabulous Monsters, and the group uses everything in its arsenal. The ancient story tells of Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, who after a complicated banishment battles to rescue his love, Princess Sita, when she is kidnapped.

The tale is portrayed in pantomime by many athletic actors, with the voices, provided unseen by another 15 performers, coming loud and evocatively through a sound system. Robert A. Prior wrote this version (as well as directing), condensing a long and complex tale, not always successfully. But the presentation holds the interest.

Rich Welmers, as Rama, makes a compelling presence, helped by some luminescent face paint. Sita, rendered alluringly by Anahata, ends up in a highly choreographed demon world
that no princess should have to endure. Tumbling, rope-swinging and a climactic battle that has some actors on stilts are impressively choreographed by Stephen Hues.

When it's all over, you may not know quite what you haveseen or why the story is held so dear by so many, but at least you'll know you've seen a lot. - La MaMa E.T.C.

Reviewed by Neil Genzlinger

©NY Times