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Friday, September 4, 2009

REVIEW: Meg Stuart + Philip Gehmacher, Fri Sept 4 @ PCPA Newmark Theatre

Posted by Stephen Marc Beaudoin on Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 11:30 PM


There are moments in Meg Stuart and Philip Gehmacher's "Maybe Forever" that you may never forget. The slow spread of Gehmacher's arms, sunward, as a soft guitar crescendoes. A wrenchingly expressive duet between the dancers that bubbles with a darkly sexual subtext.

Then there's the other 80 impenetrable minutes of this show.

The question is whether you're willing to stomach the long stretches of herky-jerky movement, tinkling softcore guitar—with unintellegiable lyrics sung on top (Niko Hafkenscheid, electric guitar/singer)—and pretentious pseudo-monologues that comprise the majority of this interminably long performance. I longed for a curtain to drop right around the 50-minute mark (I know because I checked my iPhone). My seat-mate dozed off 60 minutes in. At 70 minutes, the young men in front of us started giggling uncontrollably. The applause at the performance's end was likely the most tepid I've heard yet at TBA (and - OMG! - there were at least two lusty "boo's" in the mix).

It's a shame that Stuart and Gehmacher's show goes skidding off the rails, because both are valuable artists. Stuart is an exquisite pixie with a shock of auburn hair and sinewy arms; Gehmacher - tall, lean and handsome in a very Portland way - specializes in understated eloquence. Their best dancing together had real crackle and heat. A series of modern-dress, modern-twisted-romance tableux halfway through was especially striking, ending with Gehmacher opening a window out into the world beyond. It was an extraordinary and deeply involving few minutes of dance.

It could have stopped there. It did not.

Meg Stuart + Philip Gehmacher with Damaged Goods and Mumbling Fish play one final performance Saturday, Sept 5 @ PCPA: Newmark Theatre. Photo courtesy TBA Festival.

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