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Review: ANIMAL WISDOM at WOOLLY MAMMOTH

American Conservatory Theatre and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company present The Bushwick Starr's production of Animal Wisdom

Review: ANIMAL WISDOM at WOOLLY MAMMOTH

Review: ANIMAL WISDOM at WOOLLY MAMMOTH

"I see dead people." No, no, no wrong movie! This is Animal Wisdom! Regardless, get ready to experience the supernatural up close and personal with Heather Christian who really does see dead people in Animal Wisdom. Regardless of your beliefs, allow Heather Christian to take you on her own spiritual journey exploring her ability to speak with the dead. Animal Wisdom is a one woman show, written, directed, and starring Heather Christian accompanied by her band. The show begins with background on Christian's origins, she comes from a line of devoutly Catholic, psychic mediums (which almost sounds like an oxymoron). From there we are transported through a two hour fever dream esque song cycle exploring life's greatest questions and what really lies in the great beyond.

Some of the strongest marks this show hits is its lush set design, transcendent music, and its ability to reach all walks of life. Regardless of if you believe that Christian can actually talk to dead people, the incredible set and dialoguing between Christian and her band makes you feel as though you've stumbled upon something otherworldly. Through the haunting reverence Christian and her band create through her music, we are transported to a different time and sometimes what feels like a different world. The music of Animal Wisdom is a blend of folk, blues, and gospel, that makes you feel as though you have a front row seat on the banks of the Mississippi with Spanish moss swaying in the breeze. Like the churning waters of the Delta her voice conjures something deep within your chest and stirs powerful emotions. Christian's powerhouse voice feels larger than life and perfectly demonstrates the vulnerability she tries to create.

Superb set design was another standout in this production as it had to achieve a level of coziness meets church meets seance meets whatever Christian needs it to be! Christopher Bowser is the brains behind production design and creates a visual feast for the eyes in every second of the production. From the moment we begin the space perfectly captures the antique spookiness of the show and quickly transforms into whatever space Christian needs it to be throughout the rest of the show.

While this production can be viewed only as a movie currently, I can't help but feel like we are missing something by not being gathered in the same room as Christian for this production. Somehow the stories told feel slightly long and disorienting whereas if we were able to view this live it might feel more collaborative and easier to follow. There were many times throughout the production where I felt as though I had been dropped into someone's fever dream which may or may not have been Christian's goal but either way be prepared to get weird!

If you're looking for a bit of spookiness, transcendent music, and one wild ride please check out Animal Wisdom. Animal Wisdom runs from May 15- June 13. Tickets can be purchased here https://animalwisdomfilm.com Closed captions are available!




From This Author - Elizabeth Seablom

Elizabeth Seablom is a senior Musical Theatre major at the Catholic University of America.  She is a DC native, and is extremely excited to be writing about theatre in her hometown! Besides ac... (read more about this author)


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