Twilight Station- Missed the Bus
[WHINY BITCHING BEGINS] I went to see Twilight Station over at Baltimore Theatre Project last night and, if I can tell you one thing about the experience it is this: BRING A FUCKING JACKET. Srsly, it was zero goddamned degrees in there and mama does NOT play Nanook of the North. I get that being a small, regional company, BTP needs to make cuts where it can. But Jesus. If you’re going to charge for your tickets you’ve got to think of the audience that paid for them. Granted, my companion pointed out that there are gigantic windows in the space and also, Baltimore was doing it’s Antarctic research station impression last night, but STILL. There have to be ways to address the sordid topic of coin better than that. [WHINY BITCHING ENDS] Twilight Station frustrated me, and here’s why: the people involved have got the goods. Period. Francis Cabatac, Mervin Premeuax and Roslyn Ward, the dancers/actors/scenesters, are able to move their bodies in ways that suggested robots, children, demons, angels, monsters, kittens and, most heartbreakingly of all, humans. (Quick aside: one of the movements that made up the show’s vast vocabulary looked EXACTLY like this thing a girl I went to college used to do when she got drunk – it was kind of a swanning, eye-rolling, disjointed type of shuffling. We used to laugh our asses off at her. Turns out she was like, diabetic or something, which was a shock, and that we were assholes, which was not.) But the show, which is a movement/dance piece set to a soundtrack by live musician Andy Hayleck, did not deliver on their promise. Broken up into three segments, Part I: Trace, Part II: Dream and Part III: Frames, the concept was cool – a search for one’s identity and the accompanying terror of being in/between . Twilight is an in-between time of the day. A station is where you go when you’re in-between real places (I’m so smart I can’t STAND myself). In Part I, we meet three figures who rush onto the stage where they immediately put on signifiers of identity: hats, scarves, skirts, tennis shoes – and carry props for the same purpose: telescopes, seashells, canteens. We see their birth, first experiences, first interactions with themselves and each other. In Part II: Dream we are see the dreamscapes (and, in at least one case) hellscapes of these characters, their aspirations, fears, desires and temptations as they search for themselves. Part III: Frames brings us these same, now stripped of all signifiers and brought back to the beginning, looking for what they are missing. Much of this was really quite interesting. I like Maeshiba’s aesthetic, generally. I think her choreography and scenography strike an elegant balance between beautiful and awkward, like going to a poetry reading where the poet has really bad breath. In other words, dreamy yet very, very human. But the themes here seemed almost over developed in that they were obvious but didn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t sense any kind of growth or arc or climax and, an hour and a half after it started, I felt myself becoming impatient and frustrated. For as many of the segments that I really liked, like a gorgeous piece where a white clothed figure dances tantalizingly just out of reach or a terrifying darkness where silent, masked monsters break you slowly down, there were ones I thought were strangely jarring and tone deaf, like a strange Vegasy moment where there were roses in teeth and odd slapsticky comedy. And it also felt weirdly ragged and imprecise at times, like parts were being improvised as they went along, which can’t be the case, right? Here’s an example: in a show trying to create an otherworldly constellation of colliding bodies, the musicians equipment stuff was visible from where I was sitting, a scuffed table with a tangle of wires hanging off the edge. Like, just move that shit four feet back. One thing I did think was strong all the way through was the soundtrack by Andy Hayleck. I responded to it’s mysterious, clangy, distorted beats and echoey, wombcave drips and drops. Well done.
Bottom Line: Twilight Station is a timeywimey thing that got so caught up in the process of creation that it forgot that there is a performance with people actually watching at the end. Lack of precision/arc and an overlong length bogged this show down, which is a shame, as all involved are clearly extremely talented. It was intriguing at times and there were moments of transcendence…but ultimately, I got lost in space.
Running at Baltimore Theatre Project until March 2nd.
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