August 6, 2010
A man's dissatisfaction with his life sends him out searching - searching for something better, for someone better. His journey ultimately takes him into a manipulative adulterous relationship, where he unexpectedly morphs from the controller to the controllee. Others experience the repercussions of his actions - his wife, his child, his friends, and in the end, we learn that his dissatisfaction has always been with himself. Robillard Theatreworks' artistic director, Sarah Moss, has created a unique theatrical adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's haunting story: "Laughter in the Dark". What begins as a dramatic play is transformed into subtle dance theatre with the addition of well-placed and thoughtfully choreographed movement sequences.
|Photo by Sarah Moss|
Act II's opening dance was the highlight of the evening in which Margery Fairchild (Elisabeth) painted the portrait of an emotionally-abused woman. Her relationship with her husband (Albert) had long been a contentious power struggle coupling her desire for love and attention with his longing for control and escape. Then, adding to their already embittered dynamic, comes a letter revealing his infidelity. Elisabeth rips up this note in a mesmerizing ritual trying to rid her life of this harsh realization. After the pieces scatter, her demeanor shifts. Suddenly, she struggles to clean up the remnants in a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of order in the mess that is her life. The captivating solo was full of balancés, a smart choice with which to tell this character's story. This step follows a down, up, up pattern, speaking to the roller coaster ride that is Elisabeth's existence.
|Photo by Sarah Moss|
Sarah Moss understands dance theatre and knows how to effectively utilize its devices. Much work from his genre has a tendency to spiral into absurdity's abyss and it does not have to be that way. For dance theatre to work, a recognizable narrative is needed. Maybe a literal story, maybe not, but something more than just conceptual abstraction. Robillard Theatreworks' "Laughter in the Dark" provides this narrative framework; a true example of dance theatre. It challenged the audience while still making sense.