Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Theater Review: Here Lies Love

Ruthie Ann Miles (center) and the cast of Here Lies Love. Photo : Joan Marcus
Add Stages, Subtract the Seats and This Innovative Pop Operetta Equals a Whole New Way to Do Theater
By Lauren Yarger
Here Lies Love running Off-Broadway at the Public Theater quickly separates audience goers into one of two categories: The "young and hip" or the "old and traditional."

Attendees check their coats and bags at the door and enter a happening dance club, complete with flashing lights  and video displays for an hour and a half of the dance club scene with a driving, pulsing beat (M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, sound design). Wranglers clad in fluorescent-pink jump suits direct the constantly moving crowd throughout the performance. There are no seats so if you aren't prepared (or able) to stand for the duration, you will have to invest in one of the few box seats available on a second level overlooking the action taking place on the floor. Where the DJ is housed for you "old and traditional" theatergoers.

Suddenly the crowd becomes the people of the Philippines and the story of former President and First Lady Ferdinand (Jose Llana) and Imeda (Ruthie Ann Miles) Marcos is playing out across five different staging platforms, all of which move and change during the presentation and through video projection (David Korins designs the set; Peter Nigrini designs the projections).

The exhilarating show was conceived by David Byrne (from the music world's Talking Heads and Luaka Bop), who writes the lyrics. He teams to write the score with Fatboy Slim, also known as Norman Cook who first rose to fame as the bassist with The Housemartins (additional music is by Tom Candey and J. Pardo). The genius behind making everything work is Director Alex Timbers who brought us that other nontraditional rock history musical, the riotously funny Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

The part karaoke tribute (that was invented in the Philippines, we're told) and part history lesson about the couple's rise and fall is non-stop, with virtually no dialogue. Much of the action is presented through Annie-B Parson's fresh choreography. The actors make numerous costume changes (designed by Clint Ramos), some of them almost break-away to keep up with the pace (loved the printed A-line dresses).

When the jumpsuited ushers aren't directing you out of the way of the revolving center platform, the lighting by designer Justin Townsend guides you to the next bit of action. Once you leave, the contagious strains of the title song keep pulling you back to the experience.

Mostly young people, smiling and clearly enjoying the experience all the way through, comprised the crowd the night I attended. It's interactive, immersing theater with a 360-degree view and it quite possibly might change the theater experience as we know it. I'd like to think that because I managed to stand for duration and enjoyed the experience, though I normally loathe interactive theater, I can classify myself as belonging to the "young and hip" rather than to the "old and traditional" group. Or at least  the "young and hip at heart" category.

Here Lies Love is extended at the The Public, 425 Lafayette St., NYC, through June 30. Performances Tuesday through Thursday at 8:30 pm; Friday and saturday at 5 and 9:30 pm; Sunday at 6 pm. Tickets start at $89: (212) 967-7555; www.publictheater.org.

Other information:
The show lasts about 100 minutes without intermission. There is no place to sit on the floor level or anywhere to put your bag down, so be prepared and wear comfortable shoes. Wheelchairs can be accommodated on the floor level. Dancing is ncouraged. warnings for smoke, haze, gunshots and loud music.

Christians might also like to know:
--Language
--Sexual diolague and activity

No comments:

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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