This was amazing. I’ve been sitting here in front of my laptop for about thirteen minutes, listening to the buzzing of the people around me, circling about with their own business; usually this is the atmosphere in which I find writing easiest, but, as I sit here reflecting on Terra Incognita’s Pebble-and-Cart Cycle: one-line tragedies, I find that I have nothing to write. The sheer magnitude of the performance, the artistry that was presented in the space, dwarfs whatever sort of lyricism I may attempt in describing what I was privy to.
Simply put, it was amazing. It was compelling, it was emotional, it was formative and moving. Like a post-modern Alice, I felt as if I had fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in an interactive Hirshorn installation that immediately plunged me in an emotional dialectic that engagingly challenged while calling into question my own memories and archetypical connections to and longings for a shared, living, human mythology… gosh this sounds pretentious, but it’s meant with the utmost sincerity.
The piece utilizes projections, film, puppetry, and the masterful kinetic and vocal work of its actors to discover, explore, and expand the personal moments of individual crisis that harden themselves into the pebbles, into the hard bits of trauma and doubt, that people carry with them throughout their lives. Polina Kilmovitskaya, conceptualizer and director, creates collaborative experimental works to excavate these pebbles and, by approaching them with an artistic and dynamic bent, exhume the buried drama that is innate within each psychic wound. Sound abstract? In theory it is; on stage…it is. Is this a bad thing? Hell no.
The piece begins with two actors on stage, supine and still, while a black and white film of a woman, grotesque in her endless consumption of food and wine, grows increasingly agitated and off-kilter while the sound of flies fills the space. Two such films are shown throughout the piece, both of which could occupy the rest of this review with their own merited analyses. The piece launches from this filmic core; a third actor enters an evocative fly puppet/costume and a tale of a father’s death from heart attack, a child’s longing for understanding and escape, and the yearning for family, for creation in the face of death, erupts.
Hello complex symbolism and compound imagery. Images and vignettes that superficially could be disjointed seamlessly flow together, and the audience constantly must actively interpret every stimulus presented. Is the fly a symbol of death and decay, the horse representative of the consumption and life that springs forward from rot? Who knows – interpretation is the key to deciphering and enjoying this play. The mastery of this piece stems from its rich bounty of subtext; the piece is so well-developed and intentional that interpretation is an endless component. Whatever fickle, bent road you, as the interpreter, wish to lead the meaning of this play down, the play supports it; it truly is an intelligent audience member with a penchant for analysis’s dream.
This show is not for everyone. That was made clear when several young, disgruntled looking audience members walked out during the first act. But if this article has, even it the slightest, most impalpable way, whetted your interest, go see Pebble-and-Cart. I guarantee it will be an experience, and you, as the co-creator of the moment, can assign it positive or negative value.
Pebble-and-Cart Cycle: one-line tragedies
Conceived and Directed by Polina Kilmovitskaya
Developed and Performed by Terra Incognita Theater
Revieweed by Anna Brungardt