by Cate Cammarata · August 13, 2014
Wing to the Rooky Wood, a Renaissance Now Theatre & Film production, is a three act experimental work that explores Wuthering Heights, The Seagull, and MacBeth from a Physical Movement vantage point. The fragmented texts and graceful choreography create an interesting collage as thematic elements emerge and dissolve one into another on a bare stage, against projections that create multiple layers of meaning from the well-known works that we think we know.
In the first act, ‘Wuthering Heights from Memory’ adapted and directed by Royston Coppenger, two Romantic pairs of lovers (played by John Ball, Sophie Gagnon, Eliza Hill and Christian Thiel Titus) intersperse dialogue from Bronte’s novel with dream imagery, references to the spirit world and 19th century medical texts on maniac behavior. Love, loss and regret are explored as isolated bits of memory that weave back and forth between text, gesture and fight choreography.
The second act, “The Seagull,” adapted and directed by Kathy Curtiss, opens to a figure (Ian-Josef Benhardt) swaying back and forth to waves projected behind him. The ebb and flow of the water becomes a beautiful visual metaphor of both the dance and the deconstructed Chekhovian text.
The third and final act of “MacBeth” also adapted and directed by Curtiss is a surreal movement-based Choral meditation that examines choice and consequence, with WWI background projections against excellent fight choreography and dancing witches.
Kathy Curtiss is known for her fight choreography, and these moments are some of the best in the show. The large student cast perform well for the most part, with special mentions going to Benhardt and Alexandra Krieger as Treplev and Nina, and the witches in MacBeth. Although Wing to the Rooky Wood falls short of the highly experimental work it promises to deliver, Renaissance Now’s creative process gives fresh perspectives on old texts through visually compelling storytelling.