Big Dance Theater: 17c
Gender issues across the centuries seamlessly examined in words and movement.
17c obviously does not refer to a New York City apartment number but to the period in which Pepys and all the characters he refers to in his gossip-filled diary lived, the 17th century.
On a set designed by Joanne Howard, the white floor covered in large black diamond patterns, backed by a textured wall, 17c began with a dancer in a huge black periwig and a many layered colorful costume (evoking past centuries) reading about Pepys’ digestive and sexual issues which he wrote about quite explicitly.
Also explicit was how he mistreated his beloved wife Bess to whom he was serially unfaithful, including a dalliance with their maid. (The costumes were by Oana Botez; wigs by David Bova; lighting by Joe Levasseur; sound design by Tei Blow; and video design by Jeff Larson—all expertly interweaving into a smart look, sometimes stark, sometimes humorous.)
Five performers—Elizabeth DeMent, Cynthia Hopkins, Paul Lazar, Aaron Mattocks and Kourtney Rutherford—alternated wittily from one century to another using a series of danced and spoken scenes, all directed by Ms. Parson and Mr. Lazar.
The spoken scenes—mostly monologues—alternated with light dance sequences that included sudden, unexpected jabs that unveiled darker emotions. Whimsy, whether it was jabber or simple traveling steps, had a dark side.
A mishmash of a work that shouldn’t have worked, considering its diverse source material and purposefully choppy structure, reveals much about human frailty and gender issues. Sadly, Annie-B Parson is telling us that we still live in a sexist, selfish world and she did it with just a sleight of hand.
Big Dance Theater: 17c (November 14-18, 2017)
BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, in Brooklyn
For tickets, call 718-636-4100 or visit http://www.bam.org
Running time: one hour and ten minutes without an no intermission
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