Redrum – Fort Fringe, 612 L Street NW
Saturday, July 9, 4:45 p.m. Sunday, July 10, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17, 2:00 p.m.
They say: the agenda redefines collaborative performance by exploring the relationships between circus, percussion, and visual art. With hula hoops and rubber bands, flower pots and ping-pong balls, movement, rhythms, and shadows: a new genre is born.
Ali’s Take: Led by the intense percussive performance of musician Jennifer Torrence, the three members of SoundPlay are on a serious mission, but they take their playtime to heart. Split into six different compositions, each lasting roughly 7 to 8 minutes, the agenda concerns itself less with a linear story and more with the visceral experience of sound, sight, and movement. Each player represents an element: Torrence rocking it out on anything handy she can beat on, be it a xylophone, tambourine or flower pot; Amy Cohen moving passionately, performing impossible feats with a hula hoop; and Leah Asher shaping the visual landscape with calculated manipulations of light, shadow and texture.
The players set out to seamlessly bring these elements together, and the stoic, concentrated expressions on each of their faces broadcast the importance of this task. The progression of three becoming one is fascinating, even if the trio hit a few snags along the way. The first two compositions highlight the individuality of each player: their skills, their strengths and what they have to offer. The performers exist in the same world but not yet in the same space. The third and fourth compositions start to fuse the elements together, highlighted by Torrence and Cohen’s rare moments of emotional connection.
This is where SoundPlay starts to lose its footing, tripped up by physical tasks intended to bring the players together. This portion of the performance takes a departure from the rest of the piece, which is marked by subtle suggestions of a story. Luckily the sixth and final composition returns to this story and brings the three players together in an organic, touching piece of movement and spoken word. The players complete the mission of stripping their individuality and come together to form one unique unit in live performance.
See it if: You enjoy watching grand ideas played out in an elemental, abstract journey. Or if you enjoy a good beat. Seriously, Torrence can make a toe-tapping rhythm with basically anything.
Skip it if: You need a realistic story with plot points and character arcs to hold your attention. Or if you’re deathly afraid of flying hula hoops.