Theater review: ‘Ground to Cloud’ and ‘Myth and Infrastructure’ at Los Angeles Theatre Center
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Shadow and light commingle with wordless grace in ‘Ground to Cloud’ and ‘Myth and Infrastructure,’ part of the Radar LA Festival. A juxtaposition of simple Expressionist techniques and highly sophisticated Postmodern animation, this double bill conveys an impressively hypnotic range of aesthetic frissons.
‘Ground to Cloud’ is the handiwork of Christine Marie and Ensemble, who explore the relationship between lightning and electricity in terms as abstract as they are vivid. An incandescent bulb, Ben Franklin’s kite and St. Barbara, the patron saint of lightning, are the ostensible poles of narrative, but that’s about as specific as it gets. Against the invaluable environmental music of William Mark and designer E.M. Gimenez’s static-and-thunder-laden sound plot, a choreographic blend of Balinese puppetry, shadow play and controlled physical placement unfolds as though in a fever dream. Christine Marie, Paul Turbiak and Rachelle Mestrovich are the lithe, disciplined performers, with lead puppeteer Eugenia Barbuc doing yeoman’s work. If the relatively shallow space prohibits the fullest impact of some forced perspectives, or the 3-D effects midway cannot completely register, this is nonetheless a striking example of pure kinetic performance.
And ‘Myth and Infrastructure,’ in which multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek turns her silhouetted self into a virtual Mobius strip for a breathtaking array of variegated animation styles, is magical. The sheer breadth of the imagery — recurring skylines, miniature beings, self-lighting birthday cakes, unfolding seascapes, ad infinitum — amid ever-changing nimbuses, helixes and more, is unlike anything you’ve seen before. If this were a museum of contemporary art, Matreyek would merit a permanent wing. Avant-garde devotees should devour both pieces.
— David C. Nichols
‘Ground to Cloud’ and ‘Myth and Infrastructure,’ Los Angeles Theatre Center, 5th floor, 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles. 2 p.m. Saturday. $20. (213) 237-2800 or www.radarla.org. Running time: 50 minutes.