Monday, May 21, 2018

Chess at the English National Opera

When I was in high school the mother of my best friend, Sandra, was obsessed with the musical Chess, with music by ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice. She'd bought the concept album when it first came out in 1984, and eventually in 1986, on one of her frequent trips to England (where she is originally from), she saw the stage version in London's West End. Whenever I was over at Sandra's house, which was quite often, it wouldn't take much effort to convince Mrs. Hirons to play the record for us; mostly I just wanted to hear "One Night in Bangkok," which Murray Head, who sang the role of The American (later named Freddie Trumper in the musical), had turned into a big radio hit. But the entire score gradually lodged itself into my brain, to the point that I remember being very upset when the musical's Broadway transfer, following a very popular if critically mixed reception in London, turned out to be a flop.

So when I heard that the musical was being revived by the English National Opera at their plush West End home, the London Colosseum, and that it's run would coincide with my trip, well naturally I booked a ticket. I should have saved myself the money. Granted, both the plot and politics of Chess are hardly subtle, but this production screams insistently for attention in such crassly obvious (and overproduced) ways, and also misses a huge opportunity to update the work's Cold War themes for today's renewed US-Russia tensions in the era of Trump (hello Freddie!) and Putin.

Taking inspiration from the famous Bobbie Fischer-Boris Spassky World Chess Match in 1972, which at the time was seen as no less an important confrontation between the world's two superpowers than the space race, Chess, the musical, opens with the defending world champion, the American Freddie Trumper (Tim Howar), being challenged for his title by the Russian Anatoly Sergievsky (Michael Ball), who has left his wife, Svetlana (Alexandra Burke), and his young son back in Russia. Freddie is accompanied by his manager, Florence Vassy (Cassidy Jansan) and Anatoly has a threatening minder named Molokov (Philip Browne). Suffice to say that things don't go well for the bombastic and showboating Freddie. When Anatoly quickly gains the upper hand in their matches, he accuses the Russian of cheating. Florence tries to mediate between the two men, which kindles a spark for her in Anatoly, especially when he learns her father was arrested by the Soviets when they invaded Hungary in 1956. Act 1 concludes with Anatoly defeating Freddie, Freddie immediately announcing his retirement, and Anatoly defecting to England with the help of Florence. Act 2 opens a year later, where Anatoly is now defending his title in Bangkok against a new Russian challenger. Freddie is covering the proceedings for the television media and the tension revolves around whether or not Anatoly will throw the match, as the Soviets are blackmailing him by playing on his love for both Svetlana and Florence. Anatoly's decision is satisfyingly surprising, as is the musical's eschewing of a traditional happy ending.

Unfortunately, the ENO production buries this moment of quiet heartbreak in its overall ethos of elaborate spectacle. Director Laurence Connor takes very seriously the rock opera bona fides of this work (which, admittedly, conductor John Rigby handles with aplomb). There are lights, lots and lots of lights; there is an elaborate system of moving stage machinery; there's a chorus line of dancers who look like they're moonlighting from a Madonna or Beyoncé concert (the choreography is by Stephen Mear); and, most intrusively, there are two huge walls of jagged video screens, on which are projected the close-up images of the lead characters in mid-belt via a series of live feeds. And do these folks ever belt. In number after number, the guiding principle seems to be bigger and louder. And while everyone is in fine voice, especially Jansan and Burke as Florence and Svetlana, it all felt rather wearying to have the songs delivered in the same deafening power-ballad vein.

Even more confusing to me was the apparent political cluelessness of this production. It unfolds as if the falling of the Berlin Wall never happened and in avoiding any references to our current geopolitical situation casts the Soviet regime as a cartoon version of Reagan's "evil empire." On top of this, the "One Night in Bangkok" number that opens Act 2 is in its Las Vegas style razzle dazzle a riot of Orientalist fantasy, trading in every possible visual stereotype of Asia, and not that I could tell in an ironic manner. Even more egregiously, especially given the recent conversations that were had when Miss Saigon was revived on Broadway, this production uses yellowface, with many of the white chorines sporting black bobs as they shimmy and shake in front of Howar's Freddie.

I doubt that such a move would pass muster in New York, where another revival of the musical is apparently planned for later this year. We'll see how that production handles this work's manifold contradictions. Hopefully it will be in a far more complex way than this one.

P

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tonight at 8:30 at Jermyn Street Theatre

This afternoon, after completing my Tacita Dean exhibition triptych at the National Gallery (Still Life) and the National Portrait Gallery (Portrait)--the RA's Landscape show having been taken in on Friday--I made my way to the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre to see a matinee of Noel Coward one-acts. It's part of repertory run of nine of the playwright's shorter pieces that the company is dubbing Tonight at 8:30, grouping the shows into three thematic clusters: "Bedroom Farces," "Secret Hearts," and "Nuclear Families." All nine plays are performed by the same repertory of nine actors. You can book for an individual cluster or, if you're especially keen, cram all three clusters in on weekends, when the company does all nine plays in succession, beginning at 11:30 am and ending almost twelve hours later (with lunch and dinner breaks in between).

I only had time for one of the clusters, so I opted for "Bedroom Farces," which includes the following  deliciously subversive one-acts: We Were Dancing, about a woman determined to leave her husband for the man she instantly falls in love with on the dance floor, only to have second thoughts when he turns out to have been previously married; Ways and Means, concerning an unhappily married pair of indebted freeloaders who suddenly face eviction from their latest borrowed guest room, only to solve their problems by taking advantage of an improbable twist of fate; and Shadow Play, about a woman who, facing the prospect of divorce, enters into a drug-induced dream-state in which she relives the early days of her courtship with her husband.

As with most of Coward's work, the dialogue is fast and light, the skewering of bourgeois heteronormative conventions merciless, and the obsession with the lifestyle of the monied upper classes absolute. Plus there's singing and dancing, which was mostly put over very well by the hard working company members, especially given the cramped footprint of the Jermyn Street stage. I was in the first row, sitting right next to the piano, and the actors were at times less than a foot away from me.

But most memorable was my conversation with the woman sitting next to me, a theatre-mad octogenarian who was returning for the evening performance, and who the day before had also seen two plays back-to-back. Then again, so had I, and when I mentioned how much I'd enjoyed The Inheritance, she smiled and nodded knowingly. She also goes to the Edinburgh Fringe for a week every year and sees most of the good stuff before it even heads to London--if it ever does at all. I helped her reset her password for her Groupon account, as she was heading across the road for a discounted dinner between shows and had somehow been locked out of accessing her voucher. She did nod off at times during each of the performances, but I only hope I have a fraction of her energy and curiosity in thirty years--okay, and maybe also a fraction of what I judged from her clothing and jewelry to be her considerable wealth.

P

The Inheritance at The Young Vic

On the day Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, a bright sunny warm day here in London, I happily spent seven hours in a darkened theatre. I was at the Young Vic to take in the closing performances of Matthew Lopez's acclaimed new play The Inheritance, his epic two-part exploration of the legacies and obligations of gay culture and identity post-AIDS. Directed by Stephen Daldry, and featuring a mixed UK and American cast of relatively unknown young male actors (plus John Benjamin Hickey and, oh yes, Vanessa Redgrave), the production opened to ecstatic reviews in March, and will be transferring to the West End later this fall.

As virtually every review of the play has already stated, Lopez's work is essentially Angels in America meets Howard's End. His debt to the former work (which the playwright does not shy away from acknowledging, sometimes cheekily, sometimes more subtly) is largely structural and thematic: two sprawling parts tracking the romantic entanglements and social betrayals and surprising relationships that play out amongst a group of gay men in New York struggling to make sense of the world in a time of renewed political crisis (the election of Trump looms heavily over the plot, making the play feel, again as with Angels,  like an instant historical document). The adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel is much more conscious and complex, with the Schlegel sisters' fateful intertwining of their lives with those of the Wilcoxes here transposed to the accidental friendship between lovers Eric Glass and Toby Darling (Kyle Soller and Andrew Burnap) and the older couple Walter and Henry (Paul Hilton and Hickey), who live in the same Upper West Side apartment complex. Eric and Toby have a large circle of friends, all of whom are smart and gorgeous and witty and socially progressive and take for granted their right to marry and have kids and shop at Whole Foods for expensive organic produce. Eric and Toby are themselves planning to marry (the proposal is made during an hilariously athletic sex scene), but the damaged and narcissistic Toby's obsession with the young actor, Adam (Samuel Levine), who is starring in his new play, threatens to derail their happiness. Eric turns to Walter for solace, and the two men form a deep bond, with Walter especially serving as Eric's instructor and guide regarding what it was like to live through the AIDS epidemic. In particular, Walter tells Eric about the country house to which he and Henry had first retreated as a way of shutting out the disease, and then which Walter--to Henry's bitter regret--eventually turned into a hospice for those who were dying.

Those familiar with Forster's novel will realize where all of this is leading, and when, indeed, Vanessa Redgrave herself appears at the end of the play's second part--playing a woman whose son was cared for by Walter at his house, and who now serves as its caretaker--it feels both inevitable and deeply satisfying. Lopez's treatment of Forster's work is careful, honest and, above all, deeply sincere. And while, on the one hand, it is fun to spot the different references to the novel, as well as the ways in which the playwright subtly recasts them--how, for example, both Toby and the rent boy Leo (also played by Levine) he takes up with after Adam spurns him, are versions of Forster's Leonard Bast character--the play's use of Howard's End as an intertext is less self-referentially postmodern than it is deliberately pedagogical. That is, the novel becomes a touchstone for instructing audiences in a theory of contemporary gay belonging that, in Elizabeth Freeman's words, is also a way of "being long": of knowing who you are and who you might yet become through a conscious act of knowing where you've come from, and who has come before you. To this end, Morgan himself appears as a kind of teacher figure in the play (superbly incarnated by Hilton), framing the action by offering bits of writerly exposition, by cajoling the younger men to probe more deeply their characters' motivations, and finally by demonstrating that only they can be the authors of their own stories.

To be sure, this overtly presentational narrative conceit--with characters referring to themselves in the third person and addressing the audience directly on a range of contemporary and historical issues--can sometimes feel too earnest, a bit like a high school civics lesson. This is most apparent in the scene in which Eric and Toby and their friends take the measure of their progress as gay men in the twenty-first century, asserting their rights to marry and adopt while also lamenting the closing of gay bars and the commodification of queer culture and those who have been left behind. It all sounds like a confirmation of Lisa Duggan's argument about the "new homonormativity," except there is the somewhat problematic irony that the men reciting this argument--most of them white and economically well-off and healthy and able-bodied--are themselves part of this very constituency. (One can already anticipate the critiques that will inevitably be levelled against Lopez's play--not least that it is another example of gay men talking out of their arseholes to themselves.)

At the same time, I greatly admire the way Lopez openly traffics in sentiment, which is here marshalled not as a soporific of emotional exaggeration or self-indulgent nostalgia in order to dull audiences' critical faculties, but rather as an attitude of fellow-feeling in which different positions and perspectives and experiences might meet through the shared acknowledgement of our bodily vulnerability. This is most successfully--and feelingly--demonstrated in the endings to both parts of The Inheritance. In the first, Eric, on his initial visit to Walter's property, has an encounter with the ghostly emanations of the men whose deaths Walter eased, an encounter that, in Daldry's execution of the scene--twenty or more men seeming to manifest spontaneously from the walls of the auditorium and descending to the stage through the audience to greet Eric by name--had myself and many more in the audience openly weeping. In the second, Redgrave tells Eric and Leo the story of her son Michael's death at the estate: how, after initially spurning him for his sexuality, she was reunited with him by Walter, only to realize too late what additional time with him her prejudices had robbed her of. In Redgrave's thoroughly unsentimental delivery of this make-believe story, the no-nonsense Margaret repeatedly banging her head at her own stupidity, Lopez and Daldry create the very conditions for making belief in the audience, our identification with Margaret's pain forcing an examination of what, in the same circumstances, we might have done differently. In a play bursting at the seams with amazing performances, it is worth noting that the great Redgrave's belated appearance is the exact opposite of stunt-casting. Yes, she is there in part because of her name and because of her connection to the Merchant/Ivory film of Howard's End. But her performance commands through its understatement, not its showiness. Her presence sutures together the various threads of the play, and the other actors are not so much diminished by her on-stage shadow as burnished by it.

On a bare wooden set designed by Bob Crowley that consists of a retractable central plank that can be raised or lowered to signify a table or a swimming pool or gravesite as needed, director Daldry commands our attention through spareness and the intensity of his actors' physical presence. And I mean this quite literally. There are few props or scenographic embellishments (save for a couple of stunning upstage dioramic reveals at key moments in the action), but for almost the entirety of both parts of the play most of the actors remain on stage, listening along with us as the story unfolds, and also through this careful listening helping to shape in no small way how this story unfolds. There are no small parts in the theatre, as the saying goes, but in the collectivist ethos of this play--with Lopez's script taking care to identify both the uniqueness and the togetherness of Young Man 1 through 10--Daldry's decision to show us how corporeally proximate is this idea on stage seems absolutely crucial. I just hope that when the production transfers to a grander house in the West End the humbleness of this idea--and the entire staging more generally--is retained.

Because yesterday's matinee and evening performances were the closing ones of this run of the production, the energy in the auditorium felt especially charged and electric. At the curtain call some of the actors were openly weeping along with members of the audience. And Lopez, brought up on stage to share in the kudos, seemed genuinely stunned and grateful that what he had written had made such a connection. As with Angels, whose two-part premiere on Broadway I was initially thwarted from seeing (long story), this production of The Inheritance feels like an event. I am thrilled I got to experience it.

P

Friday, May 18, 2018

Lessons in Love and Violence at the Royal Opera

I'm currently in London, on my way back from giving some lectures in Stockholm, and trying to soak in as much art and performance as possible over my four days here. That means, in the former category, checking out the linked Tacita Dean shows at the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts (in their newly renovated Burlington wing), as well as the Bacon and Freud Human, All too Human exhibition at the Tate Britain (I'm skipping the Picasso at Tate Modern). And, in terms of performance, things started off last night with Lessons in Love and Violence, a new opera by composer George Benjamin and librettist Martin Crimp, that is having its world premiere at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in a production directed by the uber-talented Katie Mitchell.

Benjamin and Crimp have collaborated twice before (on Into the Little Hill in 2006 and Written on Skin in 2012), and this newest work is already booked to play several major international institutions following its London run. Not a huge opera queen, I was attracted to the work not simply because of the buzz surrounding the production and the stellar reviews, but because the plot is based on the story of Edward II's tempestuous and ultimately tragic relationship with his lover and confidante Piers Gaveston. Drawing inspiration in equal measure from Christopher Marlowe and Derek Jarman, Crimp nevertheless adds to and updates the narrative by focusing on the effects of the King's all-consuming passion on his wife and children, as well as how such private emotional fissures spill over into and affect matters of national governance.

Indeed, there is a way in which Mitchell's contemporary setting of the story (aided by superb and sleekly modern designs by Vicki Mortimer) serves to make it a cautionary tale for any politician seeking to negotiate the rule of desire and the rules of politics in an age of intense social media scrutiny. Intimate scenes between the King (a stirringly soulful Stéphane Degout) and Gaveston (a dashing, though perhaps not in full voice, Gyula Orendt) leading up to their downfall, or between the Queen, Isabel (the magnificent Barbara Hannigan), and her son, now the new King (Peter Hoare, making the most of a smallish part), following that end are contrasted with large staff and media scrums in which Mitchell fills the stage with blue-suited bodies literally leaning into the anticipated bloodsport of another public figure's evisceration. That, in the final scene, Crimp gives this to us in the form of the boy-King's execution of Mortimer (an excellent Peter Hoare), the deposed military advisor who had worked to elevate him above his father, attests to how fully and completely has the young new leader absorbed the brutal lessons of power.

Benjamin, who also conducts this production, has created a score that to my untrained ear somehow feels lushly spare, and whose strings include effectively contrastive parts for the harp and what I think was a zither (both were in a box stage right of the orchestra pit). There were also several bits of percussion that stood out as especially strong moments of dramatic punctuation. At an intermissionless 95 minutes, the opera is certainly streamlined and tightly structured. But both the music and the themes make it feel substantial--and also hugely relevant.

P

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ballet BC's Program 3 at the Queen E

The concluding program of Ballet BC's 2017/18 season arrived this weekend. Two acclaimed remounts from the company's repertoire bookended a new piece by artistic director Emily Molnar. Because of time constraints this morning, I'll offer just a few brief reflections on each.

Cayetano Soto's Beginning After premiered in 2016, and is very much a showcase for Ballet BC dancers' incredible speed and technical virtuosity, not least in terms of partnering. (I wrote at greater length about that performance here.) Soto, who is also responsible for the lighting and costume design, creates evocative stage pictures with this work, and the fade ins and fade outs on different bodily configurations and lines and movements frequently have you questioning what you are seeing. Indeed, the piece's opening epigraph, about the fine line between truth and memory, applies not just to one's post-performance impression of the work, but to one's in-the-moment spectating experience. Did I just see what I think I saw? Did that male dancer just rotate that female dancer's leg around three times at the hip, like Barbie? If so, why didn't it, as my friend Kerry asked with astonishment at intermission, come off?

The world premiere of Molnar's when you left was doubly special because it was accompanied by live music from Vancouver's Phoenix Chamber Choir, led by conductor Graeme Langager. Set to an evocatively layered work of vocalise by Pēteris Vasks, Plainscapes, the piece begins with the dancers (the entire Ballet BC company, joined by several apprentices) advancing slowly from upstage in half light (the lighting design is by James Proudfoot), their bodies pulsing every now and then. Once arrived at their staggered positions, the dancers begin to cycle through a largely gestural score, a choreographic style I have not previously seen from Molnar, and one that here counterpoints the rising and falling pitches of the music most effectively. Indeed, when the dancers start to repeat their gesture bases--a reach with a hand, a collapse at the knee or hip--in canon, the syncopation of sound and movement is deeply satisfying. This, however, is only the prelude to an even more complex canon structure involving different group formations of dancers moving purposely through space, with successive cohorts breaking off and others tacking themselves on to a given trio or quartet. In the past I've sometimes felt that the frequent running and sliding sequences by which Molnar moves her dancers on and offstage are shortcuts to thinking more complexly about how to link different sections in a work. But here they are absolutely essential to the kinetic roundelay effect she creates in response to the music.

I was utterly captivated by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar's Bill when Ballet BC first introduced the work, also in 2016. So I was excited to see this remount, and it did not fail to disappoint. The combination of Ori Lichtik's house beats with Eyal and Behar's distinctive choreography (which combines the former's fascination with walking patterns with a more fluid and whimsical vocabulary inherited from Gaga) is just so enjoyable to soak in. I wrote at greater length about the company's premiere of the piece here, so I will only reiterate how taken I was by the way the piece begins, with the solo studies for three male dancers and one female dancer. In their nude body stockings, and executing with their always-in-motion limbs a crazily successful combination of balletic and cartoon-like moves, they struck me as channeling the energy and iconography of both Nijinsky's faun and an animated stick figure by Keith Haring. The entire company was excellent, but I will also single out Scott Fowler, here taking over from Gilbert Small, in the hieratic solo that is the capstone to the piece.

P

Monday, April 30, 2018

Spooky Action at the Dance Centre

Yesterday was International Dance Day and part of the celebrations at The Dance Centre included a free show of the latest iteration of Lesley Telford/Inverso Productions' Spooky Action. A shorter version of the piece was first presented a year ago (which I blogged about here), and then again in November at Dance in Vancouver. A collaboration with spoken word artist Barbara Adler and five dancers, Telford's ambitious exploration of the world of quantum entanglement seeks to make felt the uncanny kinetic experience both of making something happen and of having something happen to one.

It all begins with Adler explaining to us, via cribbed notes from Wikipedia, the basic principles of physical entanglement, how unseen particles, even separated by great distances, are somehow in communication with each other, and how the state of one particle (position, spin, momentum) necessarily affects the state of another. Action and reaction. Or as Adler later sums up the paradox in her first-person monologue: "I happened to people, but they happened back." Telford mines this choreographically in a number of intriguing ways, beginning with an opening solo in which Ria Girard explores--with her eyes closed and her searching arms outstretched--the delimited spatial orbit of her spotlit circle. But even in this suspended state things are happening: to Girard and to us. A turn in one direction produces a different facing. An arm reaching behind her back pulls her first this way, and then that way. Soon Girard is joined by five other dancers: Stephanie Cyr, Eden Solomon, Desi Rekrut, Lucas Wilson-Bilbo, and Ariana Barr. Surprised by their sudden appearance, Girard nevertheless discovers that her movements can somehow affect theirs. This ricocheting effect begins slowly and subtly, with a pivot by Girard from one dancer to the next producing a head bobble here, a buckle at the knees there. Soon, however, Girard's wizard-like turns become faster and the other dancers are bouncing up and down and boomeranging back and forth like pinballs.

But as Adler's text returns to the question of who is controlling whom, the other dancers constellate around Girard, each taking a turn whispering some secret message into her ear, before forming a chain hitched at the right arm behind her. This in turn leads into a sequence in which the group begins to move Girard, and from here the piece opens up into a succession of danced entanglements, Telford's arrangement of her bodies in space--via, for example, a simple yet beautifully captivating group pattern of unison breathing, or via more complicated duets--making manifest the axiom spoken by Adler: "There's distance, and also time." In dance, as in quantum physics, both can be stretched. And both can be folded and collapsed into each other, yet another paradox brilliantly illustrated with an elastic band, a story of the various lives affected by a car crash spoken by Adler as she moves slowly across the stage behind the elastic, and the dancers whizzing back and forth underneath it.

As Adler's text emphasizes just before this sequence, the question of the something that is happening--in the world, in one's life, in a performance--is not, or not only, an "if" or a "when" question. It's also, and perhaps most crucially, a "with" question: those seen and unseen forces that are beside one, acting upon one, and responding to one in the happening of that something. In quantum mechanics the term for this state of "withness" is superposition: that any two or more quantum states can be added together to produce another distinct quantum state. It's a principle that applies equally well to this unique collaboration, with text and movement the shared axes upon which the work spins.

I look forward to the next iteration.

P

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Emerge on Main at the Fox Cabaret

Music on Main's "Month of Tuesdays" at the Fox Cabaret concluded last night with a concert called Emerge on Main. MoM Artistic Director David Pay's program showcased three Vancouver-based musicians whom he told us we "need to know."

First up was Nicole Linaksita, a pianist of immense talent. Performing Carl Vine's Sonata No 1, and later in the program works by Dorothy Chnag and Nikolai Kapustin, she ranged up and down the keyboard with crackling virtuosity, but also incredible clarity and sensitivity. Indeed, for all of the dazzling speed and fireworks of notes, especially in the Vine piece, it was Linaksita's contemplativeness and patient listening in the slower passages that I was most captivated by. She held the sustaining pedal at the end of Chang's piece for so long that at first I thought she had forgotten the next movement. But, no, she was just waiting for the music and her instrument to tell her--and us--when it had finished sounding.

Liam Hockley is completing his PhD in clarinet performance, and like Linaksita is an amazing solo artist whose interests range across classic and contemporary repertoires. In terms of the latter, Hockley's first set featured new work by Michelle Lou, Ray Evanoff, and Wolf Edwards. Lou's telegrams called for a tin can to be placed in the bell of Hockley's bass clarinet, and additionally sent sounds reverberating throughout the Fox via bluetooth technology. Edwards' Um allein zu kämpfen was a version of anarchist metal clarinet. It was sound unlike anything I'd ever heard that instrument produce, and it was amazing. Following intermission, Hockley returned to play the North American premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen's FREIA. He did so in three iterative poses: sitting cross-legged on the stage; kneeling; and finally standing up.

The evening concluded with the world premiere of SCA MFA alum and current collaborator Nancy Tam's Walking at Night By Myself, an eight-channel surround-sound composition performed by Tam and Anjela Magpantay that also features an amazing projection design by Daniel O'Shea and a movement score dramaturged by Lexi Vajda. All of this comes together in the following way. Tam and Magpantay, wearing striped dresses, stand on wired pads. Their movements to the right and left, backwards and forwards, trigger different sound loops based on Tam's field recordings. We hear footsteps and the whoosh of traffic and other ambient noises, which are in turn manipulated, distorted and overlain with electronic music recorded in the studio. As the performers are moving, O'Shea's strobe-like projections outline, shade, and travel up and down and across their bodies, sometimes isolating body parts, at other times doubling and tripling profiles and silhouettes. For example, there is a moment when Magpantay, at this point alone on stage, repeats back and forth what appears to be a simple quarter turn, her body at once moving into and out of, with and against, the luminous vertical white lines O'Shea is just then sending across the stage. The effect put me in mind of Michael Snow's iconic "Walking Woman" series, reappropriated here as a reminder of what it means for a woman of colour to walk by herself at night. As with everything Tam does, the piece is just not just an amazingly thoughtful merging of different disciplines, but also an immersive sensory performance that forces you to think.

P