Hitting Bedrock with Cooperative Peformance MKE’s ‘Cambrian’
Primeval physical theater on a small stage
Cooperative Performance Milwaukee's Cambrian is a strikingly condensed performance piece on a number of different levels. It’s less than one hour long without intermission. There isn't much room in the performance space that isn't taken up by the stage. Don Russell and Kelly Radermacher move around amidst clay and delicious sonic abstractions generated by Olivia Valenza. Radermacher and Russell move in motions choreographed by Liz Faraglia in a show conceived as abstract theater by Brennen Steines.
It’s primeval physical theater in three acts collectively named after the primordial geological era that originated so much life. At its best, Cambrian is a soulfully intuitive nonverbal experience that reaches into the most common and ponderously difficult primal actions and interactions in and within the substance of all life. As performers and audience, we’re flawed beings, though. We’re seeing limited human geometry move about in beiges and khakis. Things can briefly slip into the earthbound absurdity of surface reality. Every now and again the experience is tripped-up by conscious thought and one realizes that one is, with all due respect, watching a couple of people roll around while awkwardly playing with clay. We’re calling it art because we’re watching.
As a director, Steines jostles awkwardly disruptive conscious thought into something more beautifully visceral and organic by giving the audience nowhere to sit. We are all encouraged to engage in movements around the perimeter of the stage seeing the performance from multiple angles. As Radermacher and Russell move around so too does the audience in quiet crouches and silent shuffles to view form, action and interaction between two performers and clay amidst static resonances amplified through woodwind, scratching vinyl and more at Valenza’s tenderly conscious manipulations.Through Nov. 6 at the Cooperativa Gallery & Studio, 207 E. Buffalo St. For tickets, visit cooperformke.com