Watermark on the Fringe: Varietease – Haunted

By : Billy Manes
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Anyone in Orlando with some pixie dust and salt to rub between their fingers knows that any Varietease experience is going to involve the interpretive ebb and flow of emotions – typically set to unexpected soundtracks – rendered through the fluid choreography of local favorite (and owner of the Venue near Lake Ivanhoe, which is this year’s Black Venue for Fringe) Blue Star. For her latest project with notable local artist Patrick Fatica, Blue delves into the dark brightly, sometimes with humor, often with pure poetry.

Blue has cast herself as something of a headmistress replete with period dress and regular shuffling of the ruffled petticoat, curls pulled tight, but choreography even tighter. As with most Blue pieces of staged velvet, this one comes with a storyline that is left, at least to some degree, to the viewer. The story comes from Fatica; the breath of life (and death) comes from an intensely talented dance menagerie, including Tymisha Harris, Jack Kreeger, MichelinaWingerter, Megan Boetto and Lola Selsky.

From the opening, Sia-like strains of Harris in a wedding dress, it’s clear that there has been a dramatic death. There are moments of reflection – even some moments of transcendent reconnection – between the deceased bride and her former beau, played impeccably by Kreeger, before the three other women – likely sisters – enter into the equation, seemingly in glorious lockstep, but all around the same man.

Key to the premise is a pendant on a necklace, one that is shared by Kreeger to the three women, post-mortem, while Harris heaves and hangs in the wings. Not to give too much away – everybody’s experience here will be different, though equally enjoyable – but the symbolism of the jewel seems to become the jewel of the titular haunting. Kreeger can never let his precious bride go, not if she has anything to say about it.

Blue’s classical training and understanding of period-piece movement shines here more than it ever has. At one point, she’s draped in strobe effect, recalling the cranking video machines at the beach sides of yore; at another, she acknowledges that she’s ripped her dress unintentionally (“Ooops,” she says). So it’s scary, but not too scary. Haunting, but mostly in that Victorian way that sends spiders scurrying into corners and ancient dead skin to the top of the hutch. Her supporting cast has become so skilled at its lockstep that it’s almost too easy to take the choreography for granted. You shouldn’t. These motions are emotions and they really shine through. This is a must see and a must feel.

Running through May 28 at the Black Venue. For more information, go to orlandofringe.org

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