Wed, May 20, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Boxes and traps

A Spanish choreographer and Dance Forum Taipei prove a winning combination once again, while a Nicaraguan directing a Taiwanese actress and Malaysian actor in a US play turned out a cross-cultural hit

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

The participating audience members are then asked if they want the show to continue as it has been, or move forward in another direction. Saturday afternoon’s audience voted for change. (Mascarell said during a Q&A after the show that in Holland, the audiences usually chose the more painful option — for the dancers — of continuing as before, although that choice eventually moves toward the new direction.)

The dancers coalesce into a cluster and slowly begin to move across the floor with their eyes closed. Again, what might appear random placements of arms, legs, heads are actually tightly plotted — even though each dancer would seem to be moving on his or her own, they must position themselves within the confines of the others, movements.

The dancers build walls with the boxes, shutting out one or more of them at a time, they form new structures, hurl the boxes at one another, stack them like dominos and eventually bury one of the dancers underneath.

It was exhausting work, but it made for gripping theater, even if some questions were left unresolved.

A NIGHT OF FUR

Out at the Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) in Guandu on Saturday night, Jaime Zuniga’s production of David Ives’ two-person play, Venus in Fur also asked a lot of questions — about gender and role-play, sexual politics and what constitutes reality, challenging the audience members about their perceptions and beliefs.

Performed in a third-floor rehearsal space in the school’s theater arts building, the play was a major challenge for just two actors: There is a lot of fast-paced dialogue, roles are switched back and forth, as well as accents, and there are just the two of them to hold the audience’s attention in a show that runs for just over an hour and a half, with no intermission.

Taiwanese Chi Lee (鍾琪) as wannabe actress Vanda and Malaysian Lawrence Ong (翁書強) as Thomas, a director in search of a leading lady, both did well, although Lee sometimes rushed her readings.

Lee shifted seamlessly between her “real” voice, a British accent — a talent her studies in London no doubt helped hone — and that of the aristocratic Wanda von Dunayev character.

The only real criticism was that both actors toed the line with the sexual dynamics. Lee’s vamping was too restrained, too stiff — just as Ong never quite appeared truly submissive, even if his lines indicated that he was supposed to be.

However, the evening left one eager to see more of both actors, as well as more productions by Zuniga.

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