The premise is enticing: A Day at the Museum is a wordless glimpse of various characters passing in front of three images in a gallery. The set design creatively positions three frames where the stage ends and the front row of seats begins so the audience has the perspective of the women in the paintings: it’s as if we are the art looking at visitors who walk by. Some stop, some stare, some barely glance at the images on the wall.
These are interactions I imagine anyone who has been in a gallery has seen.
In A Day at the Museum they are accompanied by a beautiful score written by Brian Wilbur Grundstrom. His music mirrors the relationships developing in front of the art and conjures the contemplative space of an uncrowded museum.
Lighting is used to illuminate the woman pictured in the images by positioning a model upstage, behind a screen, and brightening this part of the stage at appropriate moments.
Characters enter stage right or left, and pass by us, the audience. After about 20 minutes I was losing interest: I think it was the two-dimensionality of the characters and lack of subtlety in their movement. I grew tired of watching the men gawk at the sexiest image of the woman, naked, in a sultry position, which was usually followed by a wife or mother who scolded the man.
Each new visitor seemed to be another predictable type: tourists who liked to take pictures, the gallery guide who was a snooty connoisseur, the security guard who was vigilant about the rules, and the janitor who slowly swept his broom and dusted the images.
When the show ended, I couldn’t tell it was over. There was a momentary silence in the theater, broken when the cast came out for a bow.
The subject of how we interact with art is such a rich topic to explore, particularly through movement, but the choreography here consisted of gestures we see in any gallery. Facial expressions were so blatant they appeared cartoonish. Although the creators selected one visitor to represent the woman in the paintings at a later stage in life, who wants to share this art with her daughter, their interactions only contributed to the show’s predictability.
The only characters here I have never encountered in a museum were the two men with a leash: one carried the strap, the other wore a dog collar around his neck attached to this strap. These may be the characters the program refers to when it describes the museum’s visitors as “centerpieces themselves.”
A Day at the Museum has 4 more performances at The Warehouse, 645 New York Avenue, Washington, DC.
Kate rates this 3 out of 5
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