BWW Dance Review: Joshua Beamish's The Masque of the Red Death
Sometimes you leave after a performance wondering just what it was that you saw. That's very much how I felt after seeing Joshua Beamish's The Masque of the Red Death at the Joyce Theater on June 28, 2018. To put this into words is difficult since I don't think even words could do it justice.
Beamish takes texts from Edgar Alan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, Kassia St. Clair's The Secret Lives of Color, and David Batchelor's Chromophobia and throws them all together to create a....I don't know what? An allegory? Something metaphysical?
For those who haven't seen it, your guess is as good as mine. For those who have?
Added to the puzzle was a muffled recording of Jessye Norman reciting in overripe and measured tones a word here, a line there, from one of the texts. Why?
The dancing? Well, there really was no dancing. The dancers went around in circles, faced off, there were some lifeless pas de deux now and then. Mr. Beamish designed some wonderful costumes, and the lighting by Jimmy Lawlor was first rate. But again, for what? There was no story to elucidate, and with those words rattling off, it soon became clear that whatever Mr. Beamish had in mind remained well guarded in his mind.
Before the performance began the ushers told us that it would last approximately 75 minutes. To me, it seemed like years.
I understand that this was a world premiere, so no one had a chance to review it before the first two performances. But even so, this was a dance that was hard to critique in that it seemed removed, at a distance, from anything that should have been presented to a public. But Mr. Beamish has a reputation, so I imagine the Joyce staff thought it might have something thought-provoking and exciting to offer.
There was a loud, standing ovation at the conclusion. I did not stay.