counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

January 12th, 2011: Nature Theater of Oklahoma – Life and Times Episode 1

@abbesses

When I got a ticket for that show I was just trying to take a chance with theater and selected this one by Nature Theater of Oklahoma just because it was in English. Later, when I read it was three and a half hours long, I had second thoughts and really expected to be in for an evening of boredom. Just before the show I read it was a musical, and my dread got worse. I had never seen one, but the music I heard never made me want to try it. So I was thinking I would leave during the intermission.

Wrong. I stayed, and didn’t get bored at all. On the musical side, it didn’t have those catchy tunes with an easily remembered chorus that I hate. Actually the singing was most prominent with the “so”, “like” and “hmm” parts, and the music played a fine supportive role. Probably a little more than that, because I don’t think the play would have worked as well for me without it, even though it never stole the show. Those uniform-like costumes with the red squares — that reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature — were just right: unreal enough to avoid reality, but simple enough to get out of the way. The same goes for the dance sequences and the props: they played their part to change the pace, but were not the focal point.

The text was a transcript of someone telling her memories of her childhood up to third grade. Games, family members, school, her first friends, stuff like that. Nothing special really, and no plot or drama to it, which suits me more than fine. The transcript included all hesitations, asides and mistakes, so it was totally mundane material. Except that the delivery was anything but. And that turned the boring details into something special.

In and of itself, any single component of that show would have bored me, aside of course from the charisma and presence of the performers. But the way they were put together was just brilliant. In a sense it reminded me of hearing Kenneth Goldsmith’s most tiresome/genius antics, but I think I liked this even better. There was just more to this performance, and every single one of the actors was memorable. Of course the three female actors had bigger parts, but each male actor’s part was just right. They all took turns singing the female narrator’s words, but for the first half or so the men were not involved at all. They were all great. I think I would have liked this show  anyway, but they made it something special.

I’m really glad I didn’t chicken out. I liked it so much I think I will go see the next episode if I get the chance. I hope it won’t be exactly the same thing, but I trust these people now.

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January 16, 2011 - Posted by | Theater | ,

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