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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eighties Flavor and Ego Trips

Theater Review

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Over the course of two weeks this April, Marquette University presented its free Alternative Theatre Festival. The first week featured productions of Sam Shepard's Fool for Love and David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole. The second week saw a pair of entirely new projects by senior students, including a two-act feature-length dance piece by Amelia Figg-Franzoi and an autobiographical drama written and directed by Conor Sullivan.

Figg-Franzoi's Born, Never Asked is captivating dance work choreographed to the music of experimental musician Laurie Anderson. The show took its name from a song on Anderson's 1982 album Big Science and had a very 1980s feel in every detail, from movement to costume design to color choice. Not having a dance department large enough to fill her vision of a work for more than 25 dancers, the piece featured surprisingly graceful performances by students in fields as diverse as education, nursing and biomedical engineering. Figg-Franzoi's choreography to Anderson's "Sweaters" was impressive, with a group of dancers moving around while taking off a seemingly endless series of thin, brightly colored, form-fitting sweaters.

A performance of Sullivan's The Untitled Conor SullivanLife Story Project closed out the festival. A comedy of ego, it featured two representations of the author/director. One actor plays Sullivan directing a story about his life. The other actor plays an actor playing Sullivan in the play within the play about his life. Despite some moments of comic brilliance, the exaggerated cheesiness of Sullivan's play-within-the-play is fairly weak. But the silent physical humor of Eleni Sauvageau as his faithful servant kept the show from becoming tragically unfunny.

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