Poiesis Theatre Project's THE OPHELIA LANDSCAPE Plays Through 5/8

The original production, [The] Ophelia Landscape is current playing at the James and Martha Duffy Theater in Brooklyn. Poiesis Theatre Project's inaugural production, directed by Naum Panovski,  offsets a bleak portrayal of the position of women in the past and the present with comic relief in the form of a captivating circus-like "mousetrap" scene.
 
The plot transitions from the text of Shakespeare's Hamlet to Heiner Muller's Hamlet-Machine, from French romantic poetry to Russian song. The provocative production is a captivating visual spectacle that tell a classic story from a fresh, global perspective as it re-examines Ophelia's plight.
 
Eight different women all play the same character, and although their interpretations are varied and colorful, Ophelia's story remains a blur. She is neither tragic figure nor powerless victim: she is doomed to re-live her experiences through dance, song, narration, video projection and physical theater.
 
The original production begins the moment the audience enters the theater as they are met by a line of bodies covered in stark white silk, and a bare stage with four blocks delineating a square playing space.  The house is quiet, with no pre-show music, as the eight Ophelias rise from the dead to tell their story.
 
The conflict between Hamlet and Ophelia comes to a head with a death-dance in which Hamlet, portrayed by Tony Naumovski, and a puppet-like, limp-bodied Ophelia, masterfully performed by Mathilde Dratwa, take center stage.
 
The dance foreshadows what is to come: Ophelia, deserted by her lover, descends into madness and ultimately suicide. Within the organized chaos, Dratwa brilliantly revisits her dance - this time, alone - laughing with pain and succumbing to a deadly, sensual impulse.
 
Other notable performances include Carrie Heitman, whose character shifts from the feminine Ophelia to the asserted Hamlet, musicians Sylvia Milo (violin) and Krystine Summers (accordeon).
 
This physical, experimental piece was ideally suited for the state-of-the-art Duffy Theater at the Mark Morris center, which was designed specifically for dance.
 
[The] Ophelia Landscape at the James and Martha Duffy Theater, Mark Morris Performance Center, 3 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, through May. Tickets are $35 at http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showCode=THE108 or 212-868-4444. Running time 90-minutes.

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