BWW Review: BRUISES: ANIMAL VS MACHINE at PrismCo
Entering the space is similar to another Prism experience- this time you walk into an empty room with a single ring of chairs surrounding an intimate set of mats in the shape of a boxing ring, the windows blacked out with tarp. The ensemble (respectively named Mother, Lover, Master, Prodigy) sit at the four corners of the mat. Suddenly, the lights shift, sound effects rise, and an announcer welcomes the audience to the fight. We are introduced to, from the blue corner, the Machine (Carissa Olsen), a feisty tai chi student. The, from the red corner, comes roaring the Animal (here Jasmine Segar). After this introduction, the performance is voiceless, illustrating how each of the two competitors came to this event, flashing back to their youths and experiences with what appears to be the general concept of "fighting."
Machine, grew up with a ballet instructor Mother (Constance Dolph), but one day notices the martial arts practice of Master and Prodigy (Bobby Garcia and Stephanie Campbell, respectively) and becomes enthralled by that style of movement. The sequence that ensues, as Mother and daughter struggle over expectation is simultaneously Pixar-level cute, thanks to Dolph and Olsen's animated performances, and deeply saddening. Eventually, Mother accepts Machines desires, and after initial rejection, Machine begins to study martial arts leading to the frame story of the fight. On the other side of the story, is Animal, whose tumultuous, playful, and passionate relationship with her Lover (Haulston Mann) intertwines with her training and desire to fight. While this arc is much less defined and not quite as clear as the Machine flashbacks, the sequences of movement devised by Jeffrey Colangelo and Katy Tye are as usual, stunning and visceral.
The 60-minute production never became dull, and the intelligently interwoven sequences creatively tell a story that is both adorable and in ways tragic. I wonder, if in revival and revisal for tour, some material has been cut, as the Animal side of the plot is at times underdeveloped, but I none-the-less enjoyed the evening. Music and Lighting by Jonah Gutierrez round off the performance, and possibly make the performance. The level with which the show is choreographed in breath and beat to match the continuous music is impressive; the skill with which the ensemble constructs the world with their bodies and rope is reminiscent of groups like Frantic Assembly, and equally as fun to watch.
As usual, PrismCo offers a unique, movement-based theatrical experience, and with this new endeavor aim to bring the art form to new areas of Dallas. Bruises is free to the public and runs through April 9th at Oak Cliff Cultural Center, and will be touring the city thanks to the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs with locations and dates TBA. For a quick dose of cool, modern theatre, give Bruises a shot - just don't forget your mouth-guard. For details check out prismco.org for reservations and more info.