LEAPS OF FAITH AND OTHER MISTAKES (Almanac): 2017 Fringe review

Ben Grinberg and Nicole Burgio performing in LEAPS OF FAITH AND OTHER MISTAKES. Photo by Daniel Kontz.

Ben Grinberg and Nicole Burgio performing in LEAPS OF FAITH AND OTHER MISTAKES. Photo by Daniel Kontz.

LEAPS OF FAITH AND OTHER MISTAKES is a beautiful spectacle, full of humor, sadness, joy and handstands. The Almanac ensemble members become a cult of seafarers, pushing the limits of detachment from the land and, seemingly, gravity. They are a well-oiled machine, spinning on each other’s feet, flipping over each other’s bodies, and flinging one another into the air. The acrobatic feats would be show enough, but they are a medium through which a really good play happens (directed by Annie Wilson). The narrative passes back and forth through the seafarers’ logs and simple lines become mantras: “We are air.” “We are land.” “Fuck coffee.” The set (Clancy Philbrick and Robin Stamey) is equally spare and spacious, with giant white sails lining the high, narrow space, and an immersive art installation above.

The world around the ship is made complete by the gorgeous music of Mel Hsu. (Full disclosure: Mel is a friend and shining star of a human being.) She stands behind the action like a sea goddess, weaving together soundscapes of chimes, cello, drums, and ethereal vocals. As the shipmates get their sea legs (hilariously failing along the way) the sounds are grooving and danceable. During the tea ceremony, the music stacks together the onstage clink of cups as the crew communes with its only prop. When Hsu conjures the big storm, she forgoes the obvious floor toms and her voice becomes the crying winds. The storm blows us back to the beginning: Day Zero. Other scenes float in from out of time, tethering us to their dreams and decisions. Sail on.

[Painted Bride Art Center]. September 6-23, 2017; fringearts.com/event/leaps-faith-mistakes
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