Boomer Memories Echo 'Beyond Flesh & Blood' at Alchemist Theatre
Theater can get very, very complicated with lights, set, costuming and such. There is a pleasantly earthbound magic about a show that features just one person on an uncluttered stage speaking stories of memory. Such is the case with Beyond Flesh & Blood, in which 72-year-old Dave Hendrickson relates stories of a baby boomer who has spent much of his life in Milwaukee.
There is a casual intensity about the gravity of memory as Hendrickson’s face echoes and reflects the calm emotion in his voice. A sense of peace and wisdom permeates it all. Even when he speaks of abstracts, there’s no mysticism beneath bushy eyebrows amid the lines worn into the countenance of his experience.
From a trip with his father to reluctantly hunt squirrels to a classroom at the University of Wisconsin and beyond, Hendrickson moves through the years with a steady rhythm. His life filters through warm language from a beatnik poet to life as a draftsman searching for direction. There is talk of war and madness in Vietnam, but even horror is spoken of with a sense of peace.
Hendrickson coaxes a classy, natural poetry into the narration that resonates through the occasional end rhyme. His relaxed presence onstage in the midst of the many jagged edges of a life narrative can seem almost subconsciously inspiring in places. Even the great spiritual mysteries of life and the universe can seem like everyday strangers passing by on a sidewalk somewhere as Hendrickson strolls from narrative to narrative on a cozy, little stage.