BWW Review: STILL, NOW: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

BWW Review: STILL, NOW: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Still, Now

Written by Katie Bender; Director/Sound Designer, Amy Meyer; Scenic Designer/Movement Advisor, Rebecca Lehrhoff; Costume/Lighting/Props Designer, Stage Manager, Sophia Giordano; Production Manager, Melissa Barker; Dramaturgy, Cameron Cronin

CAST (in alphabetical order): Lauren Foster, Molly Kimmerling, Colin McIntire, Lizette Marie Morris, Roxanne Morse, Kiki Samko, Jamie Semel

Performances through May 13 by Heart & Dagger Productions at Martin Hall at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-933-8600 or www.bostontheatrescene.com

Heart & Dagger Productions concludes its 8th season with Katie Bender's Still, Now, a mind-bending, non-linear play that is equal parts dramatic medical procedural, life-affirming journey, and ode to the mind-body connection. Under the direction of Amy Meyer, it is a showcase for the talents of Kiki Samko (Annie) as a young woman learning to live - and die - with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Supported by an overworked and clueless medical team, her daunted boyfriend, and a lifelong solipsistic girlfriend, Annie falls back on her experience with Butoh, a Japanese dance form, to let her body lead the way with the process.

Having witnessed the fall of the twin towers on September 11th, Annie searched for a dance form to help her express the incomprehensible feelings she harbored. She traveled to Japan to study Butoh with Ashikawa (a mysterious and spirit-like Roxanne Morse), a master of the revolutionary movement. Once the teacher dismissed her, Annie maintained the lessons and the visualizations, working on the practice of the process, not unlike meditation or yoga. When she gets her stage four cancer diagnosis some ten years later, and her body begins to fail her, Annie realizes that her Butoh practice will set her free from that which she cannot control.

Bender is not especially kind to the medical profession as her script reflects an institution that is populated by harried automatons who try to kick the can (read: patient) down the road to another clinic, lab, or hospital. Jamie Semel is unsympathetic (intentionally) as one of the doctors and several nurses. Lauren Foster (Dr. Beltram) is Annie's oncologist who finally shows some heart, yet has one eye on advancing the state of the art of treatment, regardless of the patient's needs and desires. Colin McIntire (Ben) is supportive and present for his girlfriend, but out of his depth. Annie's friend Kaytlin (Lizette Marie Morris) chatters on with her head in the sand, but shows genuine caring, even if she just wants everything to be the way it used to be.

As Annie navigates the twists and turns of her own demise, Samko shows an encyclopedic range of emotions, either on her expressive face or by means of body movements. Among the highlights are her modern dance of love with McIntire and her pas de deux-type moments with Molly Kimmerling (Annie Too), her alter ego who unconditionally accepts her, no matter what she is going through or how she is behaving. At some point, each of the characters gets into the dance of Annie's life. Although it is not always obvious what is going on, they are earnest in their pursuit of expressing their art. Meyer clearly has a vision that she expresses, often wordlessly, and makes something beautiful happen in the intimacy of Martin Hall.

Photo credit: Andrew Wang (Kiki Samko, Lizette Marie Morris)

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