You would be excused for not understanding exactly what is going on in Jo Strømgren Kompani’s THERE, one of three presentations by the Norwegian company in this year’s Fringe: the dialog is in a Russianish nonsense language. In a station somewhere in eastern Europe travelers (to where?) pass time with radio broadcasts of dolorous songs and depressive newscasts. Plain Soviet costumes in browns and greys, Strømgren’s inventively used minimalist set, and subdued lighting complete the somber scene.
Revolution and civil war, devastating victory against the Nazis, deprivations of Communism, the dissolution of an empire into a kleptocracy: Russian history is writ in tragedy. Yet also in rebirth: a man regains his shape and ability to move after being confined in a crate; a Russian doll–like series of shipping boxes (coffins? cradles? building blocks) reveals a saxophone—suddenly there is music, dance, rock n roll. Through its movement and expression, THERE successfully communicates layers of sadness and longing, but also tentative joy and mournful hope. [FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Boulevard] September 9-12, 2015; fringearts.com/there.