BWW Review: Christina Carlisi - A Tour de Force as MARTHA
MARTHA/by Ellen Melaver/directed by Stewart J. Zully/Whitefire Theatre/thru April 16, 2017
The Whitefire Theatre's west coast premiere of playwright Ellen Melaver's MARTHA possesses all the creative elements, exquisitely combined, for a stunning one-woman show on modern dance revolutionary Martha Graham.
The incredible Christina Carlisi totally embodies this movement innovator with her very first hand gestures. Carlisi nails the physicality (the dancer's posture and carriage) of the aging, yet eternally youthful dancer effortlessly demonstrating Ms. Graham's iconic moves. The charismatic Carlisi authentically communicates Ms. Graham's delicious and creative spirit via Melaver's clever, snappy-lined narratives.
MARTHA begins the day after Ms. Graham has performed a disastrous, injury-ridden Clytemnestra. Breaking the fourth wall, Martha recounts the critical responses and the fervent calls for her to retire her dancing career. Director Stewart J. Zully smoothly weaves Carlisi through Melaver's candid explanation of how Ms. Graham got to where she was at (at the moment of MARTHA). Generously sprinkled within the fascinating narratives, examples of Martha Graham moves (lovingly replicatEd Graham choreography by Camille Loftin) receive expert execution. Anyone with any familiarity to the modern dances of Martha Graham will instantly recognize and truly appreciate Carlisi and Loftin's recreation of Ms. Graham's signature cocoon-sheathed piece "Lamentation."
Brava, Ms. Christina Carlisi!!! Much deserved applause to all involved.