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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Kyle Abraham, Live! The Realest MC

Posted by Virginia Thayer on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Following his company's weekend run of The Radio Show, the multi-talented Kyle Abraham performed last night a solo preview of Live! The Realest MC, a work in development that will eventually be an ensemble piece. Here's a clip:

I predicted this piece would be really relevant to our community, with its focus on the tensions and dynamics of gender, racial, and sexual identity, and it was (boy, am I good). But one raw, emotional section in particular, wherein Abraham cowers, stammering into the mic about having been attacked simply for holding hands with someone, hit home the most. Sound familiar? I just wish that the kind of people who commit hate crimes like that were the kind of people who would come see a show like this.

As a dancer, Kyle Abraham seems convinced he has wings, and here we get to see lots of his birdlike stretching, preening, pecking, and attempts at flight. At times funny, always athletic and impressively articulate, the man is a master of his body as a storytelling medium.

I had two minor quibbles with the show as it was last night, which will hopefully be worked out in the next few months before the ensemble production debuts at The Kitchen. The first has to do with the microphone, the only object onstage with Abraham. I just wish it was used more, or out of the way when it wasn't being used. Some of the most electric moments of the piece came when Abraham used his voice as well as his body, so I wanted more of that. My hope is that there's a lot more MC action in the final product to back up the "Realest MC" claim.

The other thing was similar to what Jenna noted about The Radio Show: pacing issues. There were a couple repetitive lulls that leaked momentum, sharply contrasting with the more explosive sections that came in sudden bursts. The narrative line got muddy in spots.

Overall though, I found this preview performance very poignant, intimate, and promising.

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