Burning Coal Theatre’s production of Accord(ing) by co-creators and directors Bronwen Carson and Vieve Radha Price, presented in collaboration with SoundingLine Arts and TÉA Creative, is an immersive sensory experience that explores how individuals struggle with a variety of internal and external forces when making decisions. Visual movement rather than verbal exchanges becomes the primary storytelling vehicle.
After being seated, very physically distanced from others and almost on the stage, the haunting music and synchronized movements of the dancers quickly enveloped me. In every direction, tableaus and vignettes were being wordlessly enacted: two sisters (Lauren Ragsdale and Natalie Soto) engaging in a child’s clapping game although not touching, a woman (Madi Viterito) attempting to arise from a platform and seeming to contemplate whether she should throw herself off, a man (Joseph Reese) cycling through various postures, as if he were trying on an outfit, another man (Brennan McDonell) imprisoned inside a trampoline being offered various objects, and another woman (Nikki Turner) being figuratively pulled in multiple directions while also seeming to wrestle with her unsettled mind. Clearly, each character is in a moment of turmoil and the inner struggle is imaginatively rendered through wordless dramatic performances.
Throughout each of the moving scenarios, the company of 10 performers displayed their range of artistic ability, creatively using their bodies and gestures to add depth to each story. Masks marked those serving as a sort of chorus for the proceedings and also serve as a harsh reminder of the pandemic. The closing piece seemed to offer an intriguing and evocative reference to current events.
Accord(ing) is a brisk 50-minute respite from the world, albeit a stunning and unnerving reflection of the times. While the live presentations are sold out, a filmed version of the show, along with a documentary, is going to be made available at the end of the month. It will be interesting to see how the focus of the various narratives woven together effect the immersive theatricality of the experience.
Accord(ing) is sold out for the remainder of the run, however, if you would like to watch the show ‘virtually’ you may purchase a ticket for June 29th. For more information visit the Burning Coal website.
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