October 25 — December 15, 2002
by Charles A. Duncombe
Directed by Frédérique Michel
Production Design by Charles A. Duncombe
Cast: Maia Brewton, Laurence Coven, Mathew Gifford, Cynthia Mance, Jason Piazza, Jed Rowen, Kathryn Sheer
CINEMA STORIES: Ceremonies of Unendurable Bondage
by Lovell Estell III
City Garage’s latest offering shows director Frederique Michel as a skillful multimedia storyteller, blending narrative, film and performance art in seven pieces. All explore love, loss and alienation, with the text for all but one originating from a book of stories by Michel’s longtime collaborator, Charles A. Duncombe Jr. The results are mostly compelling. Milton and the Goddess is a tragicomical tale about one man’s (Laurence Coven) dreamy encounter on a tropical island with a nude female deity (Kathryn Sheer). In Sophia, Cynthia Mance gives a searing portrayal of a woman broken by a neglectful lover (Jason Piazza), spiritual malaise and physical illness. Michel effectively uses a video image projected on a screen (through most of the playlet, we see the nude Mance rocking to and fro in an upright fetal position), but the piece loses some of its impact from its excessive length. 1905 is a humorous and harrowing meditation on modern-day angst, beautifully performed by Mathew Gifford. The feckless Jenny Greenfield Gets Even With God finds Maia Brewton on a road trip with God. In addition to dull text, the voice-over segments are completely unintelligible. The Labors of Correspondence moodily tells of an eerie encounter between a man and woman (Gifford and Sheer). In Barracuda, Jed Rowen’s character remembers the day (and its aftermath) that his father nearly committed suicide. And Understanding, with Coven, Gifford, Piazza, Rowen and Mance, poignantly explores the communication barriers between men and women.