Dare to stare and venture into the underground world at La Mama.
Duets is the second intimate installment in their trilogy from performance art troupe, The Stain. A provocative song, dance, and living art interpretation of relationships. The musical ensemble of hard rockers Francesca Sculli, Jo Franklin and Gen Bernstein, compliment the strumming from Harpist, Genevieve Fry.
The troupe features the talents of Sara Ward and her extraordinary vocals. Paula Russell’s nymphet dance is all grace. The Huxleys’, Will and Garrett, visual art and voices will tear at your hearts strings.
The Stain’s gender diverse underworld provides quite a beguiling introduction. Rah Creations set, had the audience peel back a layer of plastic sheeting to enter the La Mama space. We then encapsulate the musicians’ on the ground stage and two seven-foot, opaque-plastic dance podiums.
Director Maude Davey’s integration of a live band as the players is interesting and captivating. Their duets and ‘soap opera’ inspired love affairs are intermingled with the comedic efforts of Sara Ward and the glitterati sparkle of the Huxleys’ living art.
A songstress (Sculli), in black hot pants and towering black heels, stands profile while the partially obscured figures, writhe, and intrigue behind the plastic.
The troupe performs familiar lyrics from poignant songs such as Gotye’s, Somebody I used to know. Sculli’s plummeting squats in her enormous heels are incredible, considering she is very pregnant.
She takes respite in a fairy light – black tulle covered chair, to watch a television. Davey’s inconspicuous direction for the performance artist is a welcome relief for the fearful audience, of her unborn child. I assume her pregnancy is intentional and integral to the sub-plot of the two disillusioned lovers.
The television is Sara Ward’s highly animated face, in a headpiece. Her mimed impressions to sitcom themes from the 1980’s, is hysterical. Her vocal range is astounding when she accompanies the troupe in a superb and unusual medley from the movie Grease, You’re the one that I want.
The troupe explores sexuality and performs Berlin’s Sex. Ward gyrates with X-rated and erotic abandonment. Sculli’s voice and the band are consistent. The harp, guitars’, and drums are unexpectedly cohesive.
The occupants inside the plastic covered dance podiums slowly reveal themselves during each song. They delicately cut with scissors, small squares out of the plastic. They lend their voice and a ‘faceless’ persona of promiscuous dalliances in their exaggerated and evocative costumes.
The Huxleys’ emerge from their plastic podiums as live metaphors, singing the heartbreak of romance. Their sparkling, conjoined-twin, costumed hearts, stretch between them.
Paula Russell’s robotic dance illustrates societies perceptions of love, genders, and stereotypes. Her elegant choreography punctuates the lyrics of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s, Don’t give up.
The troupe of eight managed the minuscule stage with insignificant glitches’ on opening night. Fortunately, Sculli amazed and remained upright on those heels; Russell danced and distributed props with the ease of a butterfly between flowers.
The sixty-minutes of Duets flew by, leaving eager anticipation for the next installment of the trilogy. A refreshing and mindful performance.