'Cross Current' at Towson offers a unique night of movement theater

October 17, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

Three unique Movement Theater pieces titled "Cross Currents" directed by professional Maryland artists and performed by Towson State University students are being presented in college's Mainstage Theatre.

The trio of original works makes for an impressive theater-movement experience.

The plays are inaugurating the Theater Department's new movement theater curriculum. Based on the techniques of such masters as LeCoq, Decroux and Marceau, this particular theater genre sprang from the commedia dell'arte form. It also has origins in circus clowning, dance, classical drama and mime.

The dialogue is sparse. The body language tells the whole story. The technique differs from traditional or even avant garde stage form in that the choreographic visual process is paramount and often combines multimedia and dance tools.

"Cross Currents" presents personal and universal revelations. In the first piece, "Class," created and directed by Christopher Eaves, three American couples are pinpointed in absurdist theater fashion. One duo represents the rich and the famous waltzing -- oblivious to a troubled world -- through life.

A lower middle class scene depicts a wife enslaved to a lazy, inconsiderate slob constantly glued to the boob tube (a strong comment on sexism). Outside on the streets a homeless couple scrounges for bread. At the bottom of the social structure they are caught in a vicious, violent circle.

Eave's work is broadly amusing yet touches a raw nerve of reality. The movement is well choreographed and the performances, if awkward at times, nicely rendered. In the cast are: John Benolt, Jim Ford, Shannon Hepburn, Jakki Padovano, Christine Roehrich, Brian Keith Strowder.

The next piece, "What Happens If . . . (they find out I am not the man they think I am)? " conceived and written by Tom Casciero is a psychological and physical creation dealing with one man's deeply rooted insecurities. A sometimes confusing allegorical work (which uses abstract photographs and slides) it presents the man as a skydiver, free falling from the heavens, plagued by his self doubts and the many sides to his psyche.

The movement here is highly choreographed and is more precisely performed. The literal aspect of the work is still in an embryonic stage but the coordinated movement, almost a ballet at times, is quite good. Dancer/actor Jym Benzing (as the Man) executes the difficult physical movements with fine dexterity. He is given substantial support from Andi Shrem, Deanna Kipperman and Kim Eileen Tuvin.

"Gender Dance" is the final and longest piece. Conceived by director David Gaines and cast, this from infancy-to-marriage saga has some very funny moments. Reverberating music and sounds, a hilarious infant sequence, awkward teen mating attempts, an exciting dance of sexual discovery and the differences in the male and female morning toiletry hour are credible highlights.

Gaines' direction shows a refreshing sense of fun in this interesting but too drawn out work. The pace is a bit slow and, perhaps, there is too much attention to extraneous details. But it certainly is well performed and delightfully entertaining.

The cast includes: L. Barker Askew III, Risa Erin Cohen, K. Marcellus Herring, Sandy Messina, Carmel Lewis, Fredi Schoenfeld.

"Cross Currents" continues at Towson State University tonight through Saturday.

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