September 13, 2010
Dayna Hanson: Goria’s Cause
I don’t know that the American Revolution is a subject I need to see explored…again, but with a break dancing animatronic George Washington, real cherry pie, smokin’ hot dancers, and a bald eagle with serious self-esteem issues, I’ll go along for the ride.
Billed as a preview performance (meaning they’re still working it all out), Dayna Hanson and her collaborators have fashioned our nation’s march toward independence into an art house explosion. It’s a bit like Oz: sort of recognizable, but then again… There’s a rockin’ onstage band, funky costumes, some terrific choreography, crazy sight gags, childhood remembrances, the aforementioned pie, and a loose, organic feeling to most everything that happens. The actor/singer/dancer/musicians – cause everyone on stage sings, dances, acts and plays – are miked and for much of the show they talk over or around each other, sub-title what’s happening, disagree, elaborate or just make crazy noise. It’s a great effect and keeps everything feeling very spontaneous (though, obviously a tremendous amount of work and rehearsal supports that spontaneity).
The piece is essentially danced based. There are several significant passages of pure dance and most, if not all, of the transitions are choreographed and danced in some fashion or other. About three-quarters of the way into the show, a gorgeous trio takes place: two soldiers harass a woman in a white bonnet and long blue dress. It’s unsettling, sometimes frightening, yet mesmerizing and conceptually, quite resonant. The show could use more moments of similar depth and coherence.
There are also several songs throughout the show (and nearly continuous underscoring by the terrific band), but one song in particular stands out. A rock and roll number about the significance of what’s going down, Betsy, we need a new flag, that again, brings the show into focus.
The final tableau, sung a capella, is achingly beautiful.
As this show finds its deeper truths and hones its political perspective I can see it becoming a stunning piece of theater.
I think tomorrow, Monday the 13th at 6:30 may be its last showing. Don’t miss it. Go.