"Here I Go" Reviewed by David Roberts Chief Critic Theatre Reviews Limited
On 12 January 2012, Steve Baldwin wrote in his Blog BrooklynParrots.com “Almost a year ago, I wrote of the remarkable appearance of Wild Parrots in Harlem. Just today, I received word from a correspondent in Harlem that these parrots (the same kind that have lived here in Brooklyn for many years) made a noisy appearance in Harlem yesterday. The parrots appear to be dining on leaf buds, which is their favorite thing to eat when the weather gets cold.
“The obvious question is this: where are these parrots nesting? Nobody seems to have the answer, making this story a definite Manhattan Mystery. What we do know is that these wild Quaker Parrots (AKA Monk Parakeets) have attempted for many years to establish a foothold on Manhattan Island, and have been repeatedly rebuffed by the authorities. Perhaps this time round the Wild Parrot occupation will survive any such attempts to evict these intrepid creatures.”
The intrepid Monk Parrots who produced HERE I GO at 59E59 Theaters have successfully occupied Manhattan and there is no chance that anyone will be able to rebuff or evict this creative production team or easily ignore what they “make.” Monk Parrots and their work are, thankfully, here to stay.
HERE I GO is a brilliantly conceived and executed performance work that truly crosses artistic boundaries. David Todd’s text/libretto stands on its own as an engaging piece of short fiction which is oddly reminiscent of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In HERE I GO, the protagonist Lynette (at age 60) reflects on her life before, during, and after “The Man.” After Dolly Parton’s biggest fan Lynette “loses” him (did he die or just “march away?), she “notices the absence of him:
“That is all I can notice now is the lack. The place where you always sat where you aren’t. The times you always spoke and now you don’t. The ashes that I used to dump out that aren’t in the tray. Those things don’t even exist if you think about it. They’re just missing things, not for real, but I notice them anyway.”
Whether Lynette’s “Man” died or simply marched away, she is grieving and her profound bereavement plays out before the audience in kaleidoscopic vignettes which are at once visually demanding and (often) psychologically disturbing. Todd’s text and the actors’ counterpoint with that text challenge the audience to grapple with the incredible resilience of the human spirit. Lynette, in her newfound loneliness, rehearses all that has drawn her into and then repelled her from the “soothing” thoughts of suicide. How does the human spirit survive profound neglect, unintentional and intentional physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse? How, specifically, has Lynette (at 60, 26, 16, and 8) been able to achieve not “running out of steam” or “running herself into the ground” and persevere through “all the cruelties” she was accused of?
The ensemble cast splashes the images created by Lynette’s self-therapeutic sessions of memory with an expertise that almost defies belief. Under Luke Leonard’s direction, Michael Howell, Natalie Leonard, Jessica Pohlman, Mariah Ilardi-Lowy and Gates Loren Leonard live out Todd’s script as it is skillfully and often hauntingly given voice by Julie Nelson.
Lynette’s journey connects with members of the audience all on their own journeys into self-discovery and self-reliance (no matter how fragile). Those journeys are not always pleasant and often accompany us into the same dark places Lynette’s significant other “never needed to go into.” But, as Lynette knows, those dark places are “still parts of [us]” and probably “the best parts.”
Ultimately, the type of journey Lynette experiences in her reflective grief is redemptive and salvific. It feeds. It nourishes. Before the performance begins, the audience is “fed” Vanilla Wafers, one for each member served in a small plastic cup. At the performance’s close Lynette herself serves the self-same wafers to the front row of the audience. This time, however, these “wafers” are those of the Eucharist, the redemptive body of Lynette’s death and resurrection. As she passes priest-like, one can almost hear her say, “Take, eat, in remembrance of my journey given for you.” Shocking? Hopefully. Brilliant? Without the slightest doubt.
Go see this significant gem of a performance. Risk being fed. Perhaps you will never again fear the music (whatever that is for you) that prevents you from joining in and dancing the dance of existence. At least one Manhattan Mystery has been solved.
CAST: Michael Howard (The Man); Natalie Leonard (Lynette, age 60); Jessica Pohlman (Lynette, age 26); Mariah Ilardi- Lowy (Lynette, age 16); Gates Loren Leonard (Lynette, age 8); and Julie Nelson (The Voice of Lynette).
PRODUCTION TEAM: Made by Monk Parrots. Luke Leonard (Director and Production Designer); David Todd (Playwright); Shaun Patrick Tubbs (Associate Director); Eric Nightengale (Lighting Designer and Technical Director); Jennifer Skura (Costume Designer); and John Harmon (Light Operator).
HERE I GO is at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues).
HERE I GO began performances on Tuesday, May 22 for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 3. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30 PM; Friday at 8:30 PM; Saturday at 2:30 PM; and Sunday at 3:30 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to www.59e59.org.
5 Comments - Read Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Friday, May 25, 2012