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EMAV Review: Cockroach's 'Still Dance' a crazy clutter of original artistry

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

By Galina Vasileva

★★★☆☆ - Satisfying

Cockroach Theatre Company's production of "Still Dance the Stars" is a crazy clutter of original artistry with inspired music and dance of different styles, and dialogue that includes childish teases, serious adult conversations, and dramatic implausibility. There is a lot to keep one's attention fresh and busy, but it also proves to be easily confusing with fast changes, tedious conversations, and funny moments that work on their own.

The story deals with lost love, and struggles in the family of James and Anne. Plush stuffed animals are included in the conversational battle between the couple, one of which, Hope the Hippo, aims to re-spark the flame of love between them. The story begins as they pack their belongings, ready to separate. The burden of the situation, represented by walls of cardboard boxes shaping the entire set, hangs there the entire time, and reminds the audience how close and easy the break is.

Director Marcus Weiss ties everything firmly together with intriguing staging and scenic treatment.

The artistic, very theatrical scenic design done by Zachariah Philips, provides not only the right atmosphere, but many opportunities for interesting space exploration that are obvious at first glance of the set. This, in combination with the original music of Scott Haskin, exposes a mysterious, enigmatic feeling that is somehow alive on the stage, ready to be modulated. Actor Jake Staley gives and receives, fully invested James' journey. Regrettably the playwright, Jayme McGhan, gives James dialogue filled with unnecessary banal explanations, which reveals a lack of sound authorial basis, and breaks the trust established with the audience.

There are lovely moments created with the plush toys and their personifications. Adam Araujo doesn't take the easy, mediocre approach to the embodiment of a plush toy. He offers unique nuances that make his work original, and he entirely "crushes" the role of "Philip/Phil" the Potato. The "plush actions" and dialogue inserted by the author are difficult to navigate, and it takes special awareness and complete commitment for a successful artistic trip. Regrettably the play called for some physical behavior displayed by the character, which didn't enriched the story

Tim Cummings as "Clayton/ Clay" the Crocodile provides large dose of humor for the audience with his "Clay the Crocodile," Avi Glover as "Hope the Hippo" fills her fictional character with life and spirit, justifying everything with strong actions. Jasmine Kojouri ("Ashley/Ash" the Thingus) chooses to work more with realistic behavior, sometimes with ordinary movement.

Tracey Allyn Cutler does good work in the roles of the journalist "Layna Orion" and "Captain Lame – O." Ms. Cutler's energetic, truthful, and straightforward approach elevates the overall action and offers a captivating dance battle . Cutler lays down and ignites bombs of action that are not only spectacular to watch, but serve as a welcome contrast to the soft and joyless, frowning character of "Anne" played by Katrina Currow.

Pietra Sardelli ("Margaret/Gretta the Giraffe") completes the image of Ann's mom well. With Margaret staying next to her daughter, Ann`s figure become more leveled, rich and (despite the shaky story) grounded, which is something interesting to observe. In reality, we all feel secure and strong in the presence of our mother. Currow with Sardelli depict this invisible but intense feeling beneath the words.

The truth of feeling that springs up from under the heavy stones of the text make this a show worth seeing.

Cockroach's “Still Dance the Stars” runs May 17 – June 3 2018 at Art Square Theatre.

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