Daily Life Everlasting

Theater, Experimental
3 out of 5 stars
Daily Life Everlasting
Photograph: Rosalie Baijer Daily Life Everlasting

Daily Life Everlasting: Theater review by Helen Shaw

The line between theater and performance gets another cheerful nudge from Witness Relocation's Daily Life Everlasting, a party-cum-show that fizzes with a thousand dance breaks—and then effervesces. Playwright Charles L. Mee's postmodern technique of reminiscence, erudite list-making and lazing-in-the-sun philosophizing jibes with the group's high spirits; in 2013, the company performed Mee's delicate Eterniday, illuminating the text with youthful radiance. Daily Life Everlasting is less successful—fun but a little vapid—though its bright colors, constant movement, jolly pansexuality, generous popcorn distribution and bumpin' sound design will make you yearn for college again.

The script suggests a dreamy portrait of a bizarro yard sale where a bride falls in love (though not with her groom). But here that context has been ignored—actors strike up conversations with each other on such topics as “we are trying to figure out / how to make a meaningful life for ourselves” without reference to location or motivation. Director-choreographer Dan Safer takes part this time, wiggling around among the rabbit-babes, glitter-bedecked young men and goth Coppelia-dolls, luring performers into dances that are essentially extended kissing sessions; he may also be one of the bunny-headed performers in Kaz PS's charming black-and-white video, which makes the whole thing feel like Easter on ecstasy.

Mee encourages directors to change his texts, so some aphorisms have turned into game prompts (an actor must improvise a speech based on the line she or he draws), and the original work's many quotations from Orfeo have been supplanted by recordings of husky-voiced songs by Heather Christian. This, we realize in Everlasting's final moments, was a stroke of brilliance. The stage goes black, and Christian's voice growls out, creaking and breaking like a tree in a gale. In one stroke, all the silliness seems wiped away: Safer's ebullient caper can feel like a student project, but we only have to listen to Christian for a few moments to realize that this is the instruction we came here for.—Helen Shaw

Ellen Stewart Theater at La MaMa E.T.C. (see Off-Off Broadway). By Charles L. Mee. Directed by Dan Safer. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 10mins. No intermission.

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Event phone: 646-430-5374
Event website: http://lamama.org
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