BOTTOM LINE: The Awesome Dance is a new collection of four scenes where dark comedy is brilliantly performed in a solid downtown production.
Nick Starr’s The Awesome Dance presents four vignettes of personal relationships at crisis, each of which is interrupted by tragedy and/or violence.
The show features four stellar performances by veteran actors Julie Cavaliere, Rachel Cornish, Dileep Rao, and Caitlin Talbot, with a rich, original, scored sound design by Matt Sherwin, vibrant lighting by Al Roundtree, and a wonderful, functioning set by Sylviane Jacobson which effectively transforms the black box space into the theatrical world of the play. Director Malinda Sorci orchestrates the elements of her show with finesse and style.
The first thing you notice when you walk into the theatre is the set. With minimal set pieces (four artful chairs and a matching table, hanging lights and a flat at the back), a coherent, unified space is carved from the husk of the Cherry Pit theatre. The chairs look as though they are cut from different pieces of the same circle of wood, yet when you puzzle them together, they don’t quite make the full shape. It’s an intriguing microcosm for the play.
The Awesome Dance is wholly engaging. The play is comprised of four separate scenes with separate characters and a separate conflict. Each time a new scene begins, the audience finds a new turmoil already unfolding. It isn’t just the amped energy that keeps the stories interesting, though. The dialogue is rich and nuanced, with unexpected shifts in the plot, witty retorts, and outrageous situations. At the end of the show, whatever else you may get from the script, you will have the satisfaction of being engaged with the plots and connected to the characters you have seen.
The vignette structure of The Awesome Dance also allows for the performers to show off their acting chops by playing four different characters in an hour and fifteen minutes. All the actors meet this challenge and dazzle the audience with their honest, differentiated characterization. This is one of the best ensembles of actors you can see downtown right now.
The Awesome Dance is a solid, rich, and fully executed production.
(The Awesome Dance plays at The Cherry Pit Theatre, 155 Bank Street, through September 25th. Tickets are $18, $12 for students, and can be purchased through TheatreMania, theatremania.com.)