Saturday, May 10, 2008

Aurelia's Oratorio

Thanks to a tip from Gurldogg, I bought tickets for last night’s performance of Aurelia’s Oratorio at the Seattle Rep Theater. Jen, Mimi, kid’s best friend, Ani, and I took the bus down to Seattle Center and after wandering around to all the other venues in the complex (I couldn’t recall which building the show was at), we eventually made our way inside with plenty of time to spare for the start of the show.

Good thing, too, because the performance was marvelous: magical, whimsical, acrobatic, funny, sexy, goofy, amazing, and above all, an authentic work of art. As someone for whom these days, entertainment is as likely as not, eating dinner with the family in front of the TV set when American Idol is on, it was indescribably refreshing to see the artistry of true professionals, performers steeped in a tradition that goes back generations in their own families, centuries in the domain of theater they work in.

The show was made up of a series of short vignettes, linked thematically by movement, stage design, sound, and props; there was never a dull moment in the entire 80 minutes or so; even with just essentially two performers, something interesting was always happening on stage.

One of my favorite pieces was the opening bit with a dresser from whose drawers arms and legs emerged, preparing, it seemed, for an evening out.

I also loved one where Aurelia stood behind curtain of lace that settled slowly down like snow, knitting; a puppet dog monster with huge teeth appeared suddenly and bit into her leg, unraveling it all the way up to the hip joint; our star then had to frantically knit her limb back together, which she did, finishing her toe with a flourish.

Other charming pieces featured wrestling coats, musical alarm clocks, upside-down worlds, endless scarves, surrealistic tableaus, embodied reflections, and finally, an electric train that ran round and round, right through the belly of Aurelia herself.


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