Published by The Dance Journal. Republished with kind permission.
LIFE AND TIMES chronicles a life from childhood to adulthood, in painful, embarrassing, mind numbing detail. Episode two (of five) tracks the lives of four girls and one boy from those magical ages 8 to 14. They all have ’70s style Nike track suits on with midriff peaks when then move around, like a beginner rhythmic gymnastics class, the movement underlines their awkwardness. This element is nonetheless very admirable because their rudimentary steps are constant and so are the character’s monologues, which are all sung to the synth-rhythm beatbox.
These are equal part hilarious and profoundly banal tales of growing up. We hear about first kisses, Cindy and Cheryl touchy friendship, Bob‘s first crush on another boy, the cruel cliques, bickering parents, Playboys in the closet, first dances, humiliations at school, boys on the make, shaming parents, petty rivalries, soap opera lust, teen drinking and pretty much every other cliche.
If nothing else it adroitly shows the devolution of conversation plagued with set up words like “like”, um, huh, and other verbal shorthand. The text is taken verbatim from a 16-hour audio with Nature Theatre’s sound designer, Kristin Worrall. At various points up to eighteen members of the troupe appear as the background chorus to relieve some of the monotony.
The movement alternates between awkward group scrambles and witty mechanicals a la Brady Bunch choreography with pelvic grinds thrown in. With a large mirrored disco ball, you hope for some liberated steps, but it’s karaoke dance in this episode. But when the static patterns of word and movement start to cloy, the cast‘s strong singing voices come to the rescue. [The Wilma Theater] September 10-14, 2013, fringearts.com/festival/2013/life-and-times.