Anamarie Phloot | Chicago Reader

Recent Comments

Re: “If you liked Manual Cinema's Ada/Ava . . .

Where to begin with the problems of "Fjords?"

OK, the 'poetry': Really? "Ode to my first day on the job at the 'vegan fried pie' food truck?" We kept waiting for Fred Armisen to pop out with a merciful "cacao!" to put a quick end to this Portlandian drivel (repeated twice - see below), but no such luck. Instead, it all kept going, and going, and going … on journeys like this: "I climbed a mountain and fucked it into the sea." Yeccch.

The shadow puppetry: Missed Ada/Ava, but this show seemed devoid of "sophisticated technique." When you can't tell if what is being depicted is a father and son being torn asunder by an Arctic ice cutter (supposed intention), or a ham sandwich pole-vaulting a toaster, you have problems. It was often difficult to discern what might have been happening on screen, abstract free verse plotlines notwithstanding, and the over-reliance on human actors seemed lazy, not inventive or "evolved." (Since some involved here had resumes with Redmoon, perhaps they could go back and learn from its use of just the right, and minimal, display of human form in the brilliant 'Astronaut's Birthday.')

The staging: A small set/screen can work with shadow puppetry (again, see Redmoon's intense "The Cabinet") but a fatal error here was the Poetry Foundation's seating, which meant all but those in the front row would miss the lower 2/3 of the projected image, such as it was. Without risers for seating, either elevate the stage or find another venue for a show like this.

Perhaps the biggest trouble here was the duplication of the poetry reading at the start of the program (50 minutes), narrating for the audience the (lame) tales they were to see projected later (which totaled as long or longer). WTF? Wouldn't it have been a service to the overall program to try to integrate them even slightly? A completely disjointed effort in the whole.

We're all for experimental and oddball cultural efforts, but the hype around this (including the sight-unseen recommendation above), the sellout of four shows and the addition of two sold out matinees, astounds us. The end result was more suited to a freebie one-off at Hideout, maybe.

An aside, not about the production: could the Poetry Foundation staff and security appear more on edge? Three times we've been here and each time have gotten a suspicious "are you sure you're supposed to be here?" sort of vibe. And three guys guarding the entrance to the vaunted library? What, is the $100m endowment stashed in the stacks somewhere? Jeez … If the labyrinth-like courtyard entrance doesn't keep you outta this place, the staff sure will.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Anamarie Phloot on 02/26/2012 at 9:31 PM

Favorite Places

  • None.
Find places »

Saved Events

  • Nada.
Find events »

Saved Stories

  • Nope.
Find stories »

Custom Lists

  • Zip.