Off-Broadway Theater Review: FRACTURED BONES / LET’S GET LOST (The Performing Garage)

by Sarah Taylor Ellis on September 6, 2012

in Theater-New York

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TRAPPED IN VIRTUAL LIFE

Tune into Findlay//Sandsmark’s fractured bones / let’s get lost for an immersive meditation on the mediatization of contemporary culture. This Norwegian performance art bombards its audience with technological trappings that thrill and terrify, both enhancing and reducing the human bodies on stage. What better location to explore virtual reality than a theater?

Multimedia artist Iver Findlay and choreographer/dancer Marit Sandsmark are indomitable collaborators with Pal Asle Pettersen, performer Eric Dyer of Radiohole, and video game modder Victor E. Morales. The company creates an immersive video game landscape of forests and rivers, cityscapes and skies, projected across the back wall and across a cluttered collection of old desktop computer monitors center stage. The world teeters on the boundaries between fantasy and reality; step too close to the screens and the computerized world may fall into a dystopian tailspin.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of Sandsmark's FRACTURED BONES at The Performing Garage in NYC

Enhanced by intense and intentionally abrasive electronic soundscapes and mic’d narration mixed by Maurice Camps, the audience is subsumed into this virtual life. Even as the audience is seated perfectly still in this black box theater, the performance gives the effect of being an avatar moving through the virtual space of a role-playing game.

Within this virtual space are two performing bodies – the compelling Marit Sandsmark and Eric Dyer, interacting with and commenting on the screens. Technology makes the actors appear both more and less present; they appear and disappear as larger-than-life shadows skirting across the screens, as voices amplified by microphones, and as fragmented body parts projected on the video monitors.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of Sandsmark's FRACTURED BONES at The Performing Garage in NYC

From a comfy couch, Dyer narrates the proceedings, occasionally joining the dramatic action. While the humans on stage chase across a confined space, the screens amplify the environment in which they move. Sandsmark’s tortured physical engagement with the screens and sound effects is the most compelling aspect of the show; her precisely articulated, pop and lock movements seem to cross human and robot.

A lecture about presence at the midpoint of the performance provides a respite from the relentless sensory overload, but it perhaps shows an unnecessary academic anxiety about pinning down the performance’s meaning. fractured bones / let’s get lost is most effective when showing rather than telling: confronting the audience with an ever-amplified vision of virtual life. The result is often mesmerizing.

Sarah Taylor Ellis' Stage and Cinema review of Sandsmark's FRACTURED BONES at The Performing Garage in NYC

photos by Minna Suojoki

fractured bones / let’s get lost
The Performing Garage in New York
scheduled to close on September 9, 2012
for tickets, call 212-966-3651 or email mail@thewoostergroup.org

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