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Eye On Dance: Night Falls-ODC

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ODC Theater’s presentation of Night Falls, a collaboration of writer/director Julie Hébert and choreographer/director Deborah Slater, left little to the imagination but plenty to reflect upon. On the eve of her sixtieth birthday, Peregrine (played by the elegantly simple Joan Schirle) agonizes over a speech she must give the next day to accept an award. Schirle is the clearest manifestation of the character, joined by Jessica Ferris, Patricia Jiron and Patricia Silver as versions of herself. They all contribute to different aspects of her personality and life, adding to the dialogue in conversation with one another but also as if voices and anxieties in the mind of the sleepless Peregrine. At moments when it runs the risk of clichè, Hébert’s dialogue pokes fun at itself. No traditional fear of aging is left out: back pain, forgetfulness, and the fear of losing her physical beauty are at the forefront of the heroine’s worries, as well as her concern over her work life and staying relevant: “I’m in decline, but I never piqued. Or the pique was smaller than I realized, and I didn’t notice it at the time.” Slater’s movement compliments the dialogue as an over-exaggerated sign language in moments of passion, particularly in an interaction between Peregrine and her former brother-in-law, Reggie, where each character’s younger self expresses all the that a flirtation entails in the mind, lending itself to some playfully endearing moments between Stephen Buescher and Ferris as young lovers. Allen Willner’s elegant lighting design complimented the set, and composer Bruno Louchouarn’s mixture of waves (referred to at one point in dialogue as Peregrine’s sleep machine) and percussion enhance the presentation, often so subtly it feels more like a soundscape than a score. What is most stunning about this experience is how complex but simple it all is. Rarely do so many theatrical elements synthesize to create something that no doubt every single audience member can identify with. Although not overwhelmed by the many manifestations of her character, the lighting, the set, the sound, the movement, they felt compellingly in sync with the fears and anxieties one feels during a sleepless night.