BWW Review: LIMINAL STATE at 2017 KC Fringe Festival
"Liminal State - A Travel's Guide" now in performance at Musical Theatre Heritage's Main Stage in Crown Center as part of the 2017 Kansas City Fringe Festival is absolute experimental theater. Directed by Fishtank Theatre Founder Heidi Van and Logan Black, the directors offer an experiential hour spent in a state of being between what the audience knows and what the performers and directors want them to feel.
If all this seems a little too mystic, I suspect that is because that was the intent. Honesty, this viewer didn't get it. That doesn't mean that there isn't a bunch to chew on from this presentation. There is value. "Limanal State" is deliberately conceived, impressively scored, inventively lit, delicately performed, and detailed in a most intimate way.
The audience enters the theater and elements of the performance are already in progress. Sparse settings and set pieces in various states of being refer to more than we can know. Seven women dancers / actors flow around the stage, occasionally connecting with each other before spinning off in various orbits as if they were electrons circling a nuclear center. It would seem random if the movements were not so obviously calculated.
The women are dressed in spandex white tops and flowing black bottoms slit up the sides to reveAl White tights. Around their necks are translucent hats, scarves, costume acoutrements - call them what you will - that can be used as props during the performance. The actors are Lindsay Adams, Jamie Turner, Emily Sukolics, Mackenzie Goodwin, Aimee Nelson, Stephanie Laaker, and Bethany Elliot.
The show is divided into a number of scenes. Some depict birth, some life, some coming of age, some age, some death, and some show the essence of existence in between. There is no dialogue or leading character. Different ladies take the lead in different sections of the piece. A deliberateness to the performances demonstrates the seriousness and intent.
Prior to the beginning of the exhibition, the directors explain just enough of what is going to be displayed to make the audience wonder. They say it has it roots in an idea that manifested during the U.S. post World War II occupation of Japan and the Japanese cultural reaction to thousands of new American personnel suddenly in their midst. One wonders about the possibility of a statement about current political turmoil or a comment about the introduction of nuclear weapons into 1945 Japan, but l cannot be sure what were the creator's intents.
There is a tendency, especially on the part of my twisted mind, to say something flip about "Liminal State." Instead, I am reminded of exercises in movement and improvisation that I experienced while briefly a student at the Goodman in Chicago only in this case the exercise is taken to the next level.
If there is a place for proper experimental theater, than Fringe is it. I didn't get it, but that doesn't mean that you (as an audience member) won't. Find your own bliss and level of involvement. "Liminal State" closes Saturday night at MTH.