Sweet, salty, lucky Sunday. Hot, liquid, ceaseless sweat. We are gliding our way down the slippery perimeter of a three scoop ice cream cone. Suniti Dernovsek/Leading Light, Luke Gutgsell/The Self Possessed and Okwui Okpolwasili/Bronx Gothic. One stacked atop of the other–melting together, dripping down the sides, rudely touching. Excuse me, do I belong here? Excuse me, am I really alone? Tell me–am I truly separate from you?
Suniti Dernovsek’s Leading Light is multi-vectoral. Her arms curl back, changing directions as she advances across the floor-turned-stage. She steps in fluid, emotionally saturated rhythms, seamlessly alternating fast and slow. She is in many places at once. She operates in many cadences at the same time. She smiles, cavalierly and brazenly staring the audience in the eyes as she parades (and claims) the space. All of it, she marks all the air between our passively participating bodies as she traces the perimeter of our shared space. We share it, but she holds the space–pelvis curling, wide legs bending, and arms cradling the overhead light. We all see in the darkness and she lights the way.
Luke Gutgsell’s The Self Possessed multiplies our love. A queer narcissus, a romance that turns the inside out. Luke Gutgsell and Nicholas Daulton’s movements are premeditated. Their strategic gestures are revelatory at best and tentatively aggressive at worst. Love and hate growing ever closer. And I shouldn’t fail to mention the third actor in The Self Possessed play: a mirror. Is it you? Or that person sitting next to you? Or the whole of us, indecipherable? Gutgsell and Daulton both, in fraught moments of admiration, desperation, self criticism and rage turn the mirror outward. The audience staring back, faces transposed upon faces. We all take turns switching places and changing clothes, only to prove that two (or three?) can never really meld together or truly be close enough. What does it mean to be apart even when we are all here together?
Okwui Okpolwasili’s Bronx Gothic tells of two teenage girls corresponding in blood, sweat and tears. Sticky, evaporating anger that appears on Okpolwasili’s body seemingly out of nowhere and then disappears, faintly traced on the floor and her saturated purple dress. She reads letters inscribed by smoke curls, brief yet steady gazes and heavy burdens. Okpolwasili’s dually voiced words glide over these tensions–cool and calm as the ocean. This dialogue/monologue illuminates the tenacity of friendship and it’s power to hold us together as we break apart. They/she speaks through sexuality, duality, memory, and honesty. Two arms, two legs, one heart. Who am I without you? Who am I because of you?
- Jackie Davis