Four vignettes that use song, yoga, metaphor, and video to present the facets of womanity. Disclaimer: while I adore feminist plays and work (it was thrust and vantage of my thesis), this particular vein of reclamation is not under any circumstances my cup of tea. And the space at the Shakespeare Theatre did not do this group any favors, as the piece would have been better suited to a yoga studio decorated with pillows, rather than the lecture hall of this modern monument to the canon. The mismatching of the group and space only served to highlight the disparity between the aesthetic of the Weerd Sisters [the show’s producers] and that of traditional theatre.
But I was in the minority of the friends of the performers who had come out. The people at this show, the forty-plus tie-dyed mainly female crowd ate this from a spoon and then asked for seconds. A woman beside me took off her shoes and swirled along to the beat of music and at the end of the show asked for it to “Begin again.” No, thank you.
The titular first song rang promising, spear-heaed by Annie Johnstone’s invitingly vocal technique backed up by guitar (Ariel Francis), bass (David Jerrigan), and drums (Matthias Rucht). I must note that the almost virtuoso talent held steady in both movement and song as the night carried on. She also provided the writing vocals for “Everything You Love Is You” a sweet easy listening song where lyrics like “Cut across 3 lines of traffic because the lillies bloom” were met with spontaneous clapping and “yeahs” from the audience. Again, no, thank you.
Dina Tokaji moved with complete grace along the stage, contorting her body into visually stunning images, but all of raw feeling, rather than being thought through, so that by the end of the night, I was reeking with a sentimentality that had been thrust upon me.
I had been invited to help complete a “Poem of Trust. Poem of Fearless” (written and performed by Diana Tokaji with a performance by Margaret Riddle) that asked what a woman might need on a desert island, told when to clap, and invited to hoot along in the final work of the night, entitled “The Letting” (again penned and performed by Diana TokajI). Theatre should only ask for participation if they are willing to give the audience something which they can respond honestly to. That was not option here, so with gritted teeth I clapped and looked at my watch.
This is a work better suited to an invitation only night, rather than the Fringe itself. Because while the work did expose a broad audience (although the audience seemed to be filled with friends) to something they might not otherwise see, it was framed with the presumption that the piece provided a universal truth. And it didn’t. It provided accessible mediums to very specific journal-like revelations, that quite frankly for me, can be left at home.
- Running TIme: 60 minutes
- Tickets: Crashing Home
- Remaining Shows: Sun, July 20 at noon . Fri, July 25 at 6:30 . Sat, July 26 at 3 . Sun, July 27 at noon
- Where: The Forum at The Harman Center, 610 F Styreet, NW
Al Lambert says
Last Saturdays’ performance of “Crashing Home” (WEERD SISTERS; Fringe Festival; Harmon Center) was a thorough joy, a journey of discovery and a reminder of our personal inner seeking. Home: a place of comfort and love, bartered with tiny slices of your spirit.
If you are looking for exploratory, inter-disciplinary improvisation expressed as art (as opposed to our Congress) “Crashing Home” delivers. Often this genre attracts young, talented performers who are exploring and growing, seeking opportunities to join talented others. It is rare to experience performance by professional artists taking such risks, and in this case delivering!
Annie Johnstone, Diana Tokaji, Chinwe Enu, Diann Marshall, Margaret Riddle in a feast of words, dance, and song. David Jernigan, Mattias Rucht, in a frenzy of music. Annie’s lyrics are sweet and compelling; Diana’s poetry spoken with dance; Diann, quiet but utterly demanding attention. David, an acknowledged legend offers sweet, stoic bass; and Mattias, like a wound-up spring, sprinkles tidbits over it all. If that’s not enough to grab your interest, at one point it is all on ‘the silver screen’, performed within a striking video by Christopher Andersen.
Inter-disciplinary improvisation might be a group of people each speaking a different language, all running off at the mouth, or it might just ’Crash Home’, lighting those little artistic lights hiding in your spirit. Leave your cell phones, preconceptions, expectations in the lobby with the lawyers. Sit down, settle in, and take a couple deep breaths, open eyes, ears, spirit; drink deeply. You will be wondering what that ‘special flavor’, that mélange, was for the next couple days; and wait impatiently for next year’s Fringe for another hit…………………….