Written and Performed by Sabina England; Directed by Director
Part of the 2018 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 10.27.18
FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street
by Ran Xia on 10.22.18
Sabina England in Allah Earth. Photo by Bill Ross
BOTTOM LINE: In this solo dance piece, Sabina England illustrates the cycle of life with poetic movements.
In Sabina England's Allah Earth, each death is like falling asleep, just to be awakened in another dream, and in each life, it's a process of her discovering a new self.
The show is cryptic in its ways of expression. The highly stylized video projections (created by the England herself) consist of the artist as subject, gradually morphing into landscapes manipulated into a more psychedelic rhythm. If Hieronymus Bosch and Escher were still alive today and wanted to make a music video together, this might be similar to their aesthetics. But the structure of Allah Earth is straightforward: England performs in great earnest her interpretation of life alongside music (composed by Micropixie and Paco Serén). For the majority of the show, the deaf performance artist relies on her physicality alone to communicate the messages of the piece, which are not only a joy to decipher, but also make the show a lesson in active observation. You really have to watch every move.
Donning a delicate ensemble of emerald green from head to toe, the character England embodies first seems to be a woodland nymph, or a mythological being in tune with the nature she is a part of. This being transitions into a deep sleep induced by a delicious but potent fruit, then awakens to find herself in the mortal real: she falls in love (we see her coy acceptance of a first dance, and later on a wedding ring), becomes a mother, raises a child, sends the grown child off, and eventually returns to the long sleep before beginning a new dream. The deliciously elaborate storytelling that illustrates the life of a woman—all without using a single word—is definitely my favorite part of the show.
Allah Earth concludes with an open and welcome ASL message about the interconnectivity of things, set to a collage of music from different world cultures. Sure, the piece could use some variations in style—it's difficult to stay laser focused for forty-five minutes of wordless poetry, especially when the piece is more vignettes rather than plot-driven narrative. That said, Allah Earth is a nurturing piece that soothes and delights in response to the overwhelming hatred between and among various ethnic groups in our contemporary world.
(Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life plays at FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street at Charles Street, through October 27, 2018. Meet at the WHITE FringeNYC flag. The running time is 45 minutes. Performances are Sat 10/20 at 7:30, Sun 10/21 at 7, Tue 10/23 at 4:45, and Sat 10/27 at 1:15. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $22 (plus $3.69 ticketing fee), $16 (plus $3.51) for seniors, and are ONLY available online at fringenyc.org. For more information visit sabinaengland.com.)
Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life is written and performed by Sabina England. Music by Micropixie and Paco Serén.