Thursday, October 27, 2011
"Night Falls" ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; (415) 863-9834, www.deborahslater.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. $17-20. Peregrine is a freelance film writer awoken from bad dreams on the eve of her 60th birthday in this fitful but witty dance-theater rumination on aging and success co-directed by writer Julie Hébert and choreographer Deborah Slater. Played by a restless, irascible Joan Shirle (a force in pajamas and leather jacket with wild graying hair), Peregrine is alone yet not shadowed by a younger self (Jessica Ferris) and the shade of her aging mother (Patricia Silver) as well as a certain feminine spirit known (in the program) as Prima (Patricia Jiron) who sings snatches of a Beatles song while flashing a flummoxing eight of spades at troubled Peregrine. Set against, and on, a large metal staircase covered by a wall of driftwood curled at the top like a cresting wave (in Giulio Cesare Perrone's scenic design), Peregrine chews up the night with worry and regret, yet to write tomorrow's commencement speech for MFA grads despite the job that may be riding on it. Feeling she has nothing to say, wondering where her youth went, and cynical about mentoring students in a ruthless freelance economy, she makes a desperate call to her ex-husband only to retrieve his brother (Robert Ernst) by mistake. He too comes shadowed by a youthful spirit (Stephen Buescher), who flirts shamelessly with Peregrine's counterpart, but ultimately retreats in hesitation back into his own pain, though not without some good accomplished. From scattered anguish and anxiety, amid a gestural choreography alternately suggesting slow-tumbling physicality and imperfect or vaguely noisome communication, the performers finally coalesce around an individual acceptance of the persistence of the body itself, site and measure of all that in the wee hours of truthful night could ever be called success.