Entertainment, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Twelfth Night

Irina Tsikurishvili as Viola with Ensemble in Synetic Theater's Twelfth Night. Photo: Koko Lanham.

Irina Tsikurishvili as Viola with Ensemble in Synetic Theater’s Twelfth Night. Photo: Koko Lanham.

Synetic Theater has been praised for many years by the artistic community for their innovative visual theatre performance style. Combining movement and music and eschewing verbal dialogue to tell a story, their productions are unique and more eclectic than most other theatre happening in the DC area. The first time I saw one of their shows, I was blown away by the beauty, the fluidity, and the outside-the-box artistry. The second production I saw was also dazzling, but reminiscent of the first production I saw. By the time I saw my third Synetic production, I was feeling that as much as I enjoyed and appreciated what they did, they might be a proverbial one-trick pony. This didn’t stop me from seeing their shows, because I have always been impressed by the stunning design and the graceful movement of the company members, but I began to feel like I knew what I would be getting. For me, Synetic Theater was a place where the “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” adage seemed to apply.

But after seeing Synetic Theater’s production of Twelfth Night, I have to amend my former opinions. I now state with absolution that they are not a one-trick pony and have, once again, blown me away by the beauty and outside-the-box artistry unlike anything I have ever seen. Continue reading

Entertainment, We Love Arts

In the House with Paata Tsikurishvili

Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theater

Paata Tsikurishvili of Synetic Theater

In the House is a feature interview series about the theater-makers that keep our most precious institutions up and running. We want to know what artistic and executive directors love about their jobs, how they see their work affecting the city’s theater culture, and what they hope for the future of the craft.

Paata Tsikurishvili is the founding artistic director and CEO of the acclaimed Synetic Theater, a physical theater fusing dynamic art forms — such as text, drama, movement, acrobatics, dance and music.

Joanna Castle Miller: What does it mean for you to be Synetic Theater’s artistic director? 

Paata Tsikurishvili: Let me just back up a little bit: I used to dream about becoming an artistic director, many many years ago back in my country (Georgia), and especially to somehow get to the USA and open a company, because I had my own vision from the very beginning. I believed that synthesis of the different arts is the way to go. And I’m living my dream. It’s just a blessing. It’s my life. I love it, every second of it.

JCM: What all does your job involve?

PT: Being founder of the company involves the Board of Directors, organizational things, management things, the budget – it’s all there. But what really excites me is the artistic side. I do manage artists, so it’s one of my skills to make sure I recognize talents and then manage the talents and use them in the right direction.

We audition actors and then we teach them expressions: internal, external, psychological, movement, theatrical dance, you name it. Next, I’m researching all the time, nonstop, to find out what my season is going to look like.

Then I start working with a dramaturg and playwright. Most of our work is based on world literature and classics. To take it from literature to a staged play is quite challenging, and especially for Synetic, because our vocabulary of storytelling is not just verbal. It’s visual, movement, sound. It’s synthesis. So I probably spend 6-9 months preparing things.

JCM: For each piece?

PT: Yes.

JCM: How do you decide what shows to include in your season? What’s that process like?

PT: Sometimes I find themes for the season; sometimes I want to change and do something very different. It depends on the year. And life is dictating me. For example, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I chose that production because of Alex Mills’ Puck.

JCM: So sometimes the actors inspire the decisions?

PT: Yes. A lot of actors – I don’t want to leave anybody out. And 50% of me is my wife Irina. We brainstorm together and argue all the time, and I have to keep in mind what works for her. Sometimes I want to have dance style productions because I know it’s the best use of her.

JCM: What’s the biggest obstacle you face in attracting DC area audiences?

PT: I think the biggest challenge is that no one can really define what we do with one word. People say, “Oh, this is not really a theater; it’s dance.” Sometimes we do shows on the water – that doesn’t mean we’re a swimming company, right? So if we dance, it doesn’t make us dancers.

The 21st century definition of theater can mean many different things for different artists. Every artistic director has their own approach, their own vision.

The challenge is also to get someone into the theater who has never seen a show here. Because if I say, “Shakespeare without words,” you go, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Right? It’s hard to imagine, but once you come and see it becomes addictive.

JCM: How have you seen Synetic evolve over the last few years?

PT: Synetic is really blessed to have actors almost like a repertory. Some of our actors have been here more than 10 years. And every time we put on a show, they become better and better and better. So it gives me the opportunity to find hidden talents that they carry and the buttons to push it. And it’s a blessing to know each other so long, for such a long time. Every time we do something new, or better, or mastered differently, we all grow together.

It was 2003 when I first produced Hamlet… the rest is silence. That’s why I’m bringing back Hamlet this year. In the next ten years, my goal is to get national and international, which means I will get some agencies and start pushing for touring. We’ve trained more than 160-180 actors, so everyone is ready, and they love it.

JCM: What’s one show would you likely never, ever produce at Synetic? 

PT: I don’t know! I have no answer for that.

But let me tell you this: everything is changing around us, life is changing, and I love experiments. Maybe in the next few seasons, I’ll figure out how to produce a musical. I see how a Synetic-style musical could be, with a new angle, differently done of course, and for some reason it excites me. I never thought about it before, but now I think “Hmm… I’ve got to do this.” I’ve started having meetings.

Maybe one day, one show a season will be a musical, one show will be a traditional work, one show will be wordless, and one show will be a synthesis like Dorian. I want to diverse my theatrical portfolio a little further.

JCM: I hate that we’re done. Is there anything else you’d say about your work here in DC?

PT: Of course! The reason that Synetic become such a successful organization is nonstop work of myself, Irina, and of course my colleagues. I want to make sure the actors get the credit because without their dedication – the time, the execution – Synetic would never have been able to achieve what we did. That’s how Synetic became American theater.

I’m very excited to say I’m living my dream. I was able to found a company – an American dream story. I’m happy to be part of this, in one of the most diverse and unique theater towns.

I’ve been to many world theater festivals; I have seen so many things. Washington’s theater community is very unique, very diverse. We have tiny theaters taking huge risks, and we have big theaters doing unbelievable work. It’s an artistic melting pot right here. And I’m happy to be a part of it.

Synetic Theater is located in Crystal City. Their current show, The Picture of Dorian Gray, runs through November 3.

We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Three Musketeers

Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D'Artagnan / courtesy Johnny Shryock

Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D’Artagnan / courtesy Johnny Shryock

When Synetic Theater announces a show like The Three Musketeers, you know you’re either in for a treat or a major lawsuit. After all, the only choreography more daring than the usual attempts by Synetic would be Synetic + swords.

But no lawsuits necessary (at time of publication). The Three Musketeers is thrilling; and the cast has trained in sword-fighting to make sure you get a great show without any hospitalization.

Adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ beloved novel, The Three Musketeers tells of young D’Artagnan, who arrives in 17th century Paris to join the king’s guard: the famous Musketeers. He finds in their place a group of drunk womanizers who dream of battle but won’t regain glory when they can’t even stand up straight.

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Special Events

Listen to Your Mother

Listen to Your Mother Cast / Courtesy LTYM DC

Listen to Your Mother Cast / Courtesy LTYM DC

Full disclosure: I went to Synetic Theater on Sunday afternoon firstly to see my friend Lauren perform and secondly because my mom said so. She likes stories about motherhood, and couldn’t be there herself. So mist and cold be damned.

Listen to Your Mother is a national program started by Ann Imig to “give Mother’s Day a voice” by inviting writers to read/perform selected personal essays about motherhood. The 2nd annual DC show took place Sunday at Synetic Theater.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: A Trip to the Moon

Karen O’Connell as Laika and Katrina Clark as the Moon in Synetic Theater’s production of A Trip to the Moon. Photo credit: Johnny Shryock.

Over the course of this theatrical season’s start, I’ve seen three productions that represent (for me, anyway) the future direction of theater: Folger Theatre’s The Conference of the Birds, Synetic Theater’s A Trip to the Moon, and Studio Theatre’s The Aliens. Though each style follows a different track, all three are dedicated to resuscitating the living magic of the stage. As a consequence, I’m more excited about theater at this moment than I have been in a long time.

“Following” may not really be the right verb for visionary director Natsu Onoda Power, who takes the digital and makes it flesh in A Trip to the Moon. Earlier this year, Onoda Power showed us a daring combination of technical innovation and wistful emotion with Astro Boy and the God of Comics at The Studio 2ndStage. I loved it. So did Paata Tsikurishvili, artistic director of Synetic Theater, who consequently was inspired to ask the Georgetown professor to create a piece for his award-winning company. The fact that opportunities for such collaboration exist now in DC is cause for an ovation itself.

A Trip to the Moon is a paen to our very human need to understand that cold, lonely orb in the sky – we dream of it, we long to possess it, we both love and fear it. The safe choice would be to concentrate on the ethereal, romantic quality of its beauty – but we’re in the realm of risk-takers here, so there’s an attraction/repulsion aspect to this production instead. It’s not as balletic as previous Synetic offerings, and gives us goofy space explorers, glowstick hair, and moon dogs sniffing each other’s butts.

Risk-taking means there will be flaws. But there will also be brilliance.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: WLDC 2012 Theater Preview (Part 1)

The We Love DC Theater team: Don Whiteside, Patrick Pho, Jenn Larsen, and Joanna Castle Miller.

Fall is in the air and that means one thing…

RGIII!

Oh ya and Theatre.

As new seasons across the District kick-off, the We Love DC Theater team got together at The Brixton to talk about the upcoming year in theater – and I got some of it on video! Find out which shows we are excited about in the first of two videos below!

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The Daily Feed, We Love Arts

Page to Stage Fest This Weekend

Photo courtesy of Michael T. Ruhl
Hanging Lights
courtesy of Michael T. Ruhl

If you’re looking to round out your Labor Day weekend plans, how does free theater at the Kennedy Center sound?

The 11th annual Page to Stage festival runs this Saturday-Monday and features free readings, workshops, and rehearsals of new works by some of the area’s most talented artists and theater companies.

This year, Synetic Theater offers a training demonstration and preview of their upcoming wordless Jekyll and Hyde; groups like The Inkwell and DC-Area Playwrights Group plan to showcase short, new works in progress by local playwrights; Signature Theatre, Folger Theatre, and the Kennedy Center all team up for Ken Ludwig’s latest thriller; and the weekend features a number of family-friendly shows for the younger crowd.

Page to Stage also offers a rare chance to see shows in the Kennedy Center’s rehearsal spaces and smaller venues. With a casual and collaborative atmosphere, it’s a bit like the Fringe – except with more chandeliers.

Page to Stage runs September 1-3, 2012 throughout multiple venues at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Kennedy Center is located at 2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20566. Closest Metro stop: Foggy Bottom/GWU (Orange/Blue line). For more information call  202-467-4600.

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Taming of the Shrew

Irina Tsikurishvili as Katherine, Ryan Sellers as Petruchio, Alex Mills as Grumio in Synetic Theater's Taming of the Shrew. Photo credit: Johnny Shyrock.

Synetic Theater takes Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and beautifully reinvents it – not as a “problem play” about women being subjugated to men, but as a love story between two people desperately trying to cast off their masks and rise above the damage of broken trust. It’s effectively rescued from the misogynist dustbin in a rollicking ninety minutes, performed with all the sexy aplomb of an Italian fashion show on acid.

The production also sees the apex of choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili’s skill, where movement is flawlessly integrated to characterization and plot. Allowing not only for the usual expected moments of Synetic athleticism, but also for quiet beauty that’s truly human, this is dance theater at its finest.

Opening with a funeral to pinpoint the heartbreak of two motherless women, director Paata Tsikurishvili frames the story in a helpful way that provides motivation for both sisters’ acting out. While older Katherine (Irina Tsikurishvili) explodes in caustic rage at paparazzi, the younger Bianca (Irina Kavsadze) struts and pouts for the tabloids. Into their hollow lives come two men completely outside the flash – earnest Lucentio (Scott Brown) and rebellious Petruchio (Ryan Sellers).

Oh, there’s also a wink to Victoria’s Secret catwalk shows, a hair-raising motorcycle ride, nude modeling, body paint, and a rubber chicken. Irreverent? Definitely. But always in service to the story.
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Arlington, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: The 1K Beer Walk

Photo courtesy of jcm_DC
Porter
courtesy of jcm_DC

If you’ve ever wanted to run a marathon but worry about whether your beer gut will slow you down, Washington Wine Academy‘s DC School of Beer has a perfect solution: the Beer Walk!

The beer walk took place last Saturday and Sunday – a week after the wine walk – in the underground maze of the Crystal City Shops. Both “Beer Walk” and “Wine Walk” are pretty self-explanatory.

After you sign in and show ID, you pick up your race number, t-shirt, glass, and drink tickets. With twenty tickets and generous pours, a $20-$35 ticket (depending on the day/time of the heat you sign up for) will get you feeling pretty good – especially if it’s only 2pm when you start, like it was for me.

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Arlington, Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Macbeth

Irakli Kavsadze and Irina Tsikurishvili in Synetic Theater's 2011 production of Macbeth. Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

What would you do for absolute power? Could you kill your friend? Murder children? Call it justice? Watch out. On the path to conquering the world, you might lose your soul. “Fair is foul and foul is fair…”

There’s a gasp-inducing moment in Synetic Theater‘s production of Macbeth that focuses it as a straight-up morality tale. Lady Macbeth, in the last throes of madness induced by guilt, slides into a hellish hole like blood down a drain. It’s terrifying, as Irina Tsikurishvili’s eyes roll around and the watching witches smile demonically in approval.

It’s hard to remember there once was a time when Synetic seemed to come out of nowhere, with images like this one shaking up the DC theatre scene. Their physically combustive style was almost subversive in its daring. Now that they’re more established, at home in Crystal City, they could easily rest on the accolades gained by their current signature style of Silent Shakespeare, and audiences might not blame them for it. But I doubt there will be much resting by Synetic’s driven artistic team, and I’m interested to see what they come up with in the next phase.

Before they move on with new explorations of world physical theater next year, their Silent Shakespeare Festival Speak No More revives three of their popular wordless adaptations – Macbeth, Othello (my personal favorite) and Romeo & Juliet. Each run will be just about three weeks - Macbeth closes October 2.

This revival of the 2007 production is darkly militaristic. Forget the tartan. Bring on the choke chain.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: King Lear

Irakli Kavsadze in Synetic Theater's production of King Lear. Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw.

There’s a point in the life cycle of a theater company when its style is well-established and admired. Audiences get it, enamored of the new elements that it brings to the city’s art scene. Awards are achieved, a new home is granted. That’s the tipping point, when its time for the critic to stop focusing so much on the uniqueness of the company’s innovation, and for the artists to start thinking about the next direction. In other words – let’s stop looking at the dress, and examine the body underneath.

I am at that point with Synetic Theater, a company I dearly love, and whose success I feel strongly about. But after seeing King Lear, I wonder if it’s time to pause the still well-deserved accolades for their physical style, and highlight where they could use some growth.

It isn’t quite a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes yet. Certainly there’s a ravishingly sick beauty to this production, with its Fellini meets Tim Burton inspiration, and the usual haunting images and moments of physical power we’ve come to expect and indeed demand from Synetic. But, it’s just that – usual. Now that this style is the baseline expectation for Synetic, and because we expect that level of brilliance in the conceptual presentation, the holes with plot interpretation are starting to show.

And with next season full of repeats of popular productions past before debuting a winter program called New Movements: New Directors, New Voices, I wonder if the company itself is beginning to feel its time to take stock.

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Entertainment, Penn Quarter, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Master and Margarita

Paata Tsikurishvili, Irina Tsikurishvili, Sara Taurchini and Katherine Frattini in Synetic Theater's "The Master and Margarita." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw.

Synetic Theater is following up on their muscular rendition of King Arthur with something a bit more cerebral. Actually, a lot more cerebral, with not one but two men losing their heads onstage. Joking aside, it’s hard for me to know how to judge The Master and Margarita, playing through December 12 at the Lansburgh Theatre. As the company revisits its 2004 production of the Mikhail Bulgakov novel with a new adaptation by Roland Reed, all the usual elements we’ve come to expect and love from Synetic are in full force – extremely beautiful design, powerful physical visuals, and dramatic intensity. Putting these talents at the service of a densely intellectual story, mostly unfamiliar to American audiences, is the kind of risky undertaking I certainly admire. Yet somehow, I felt like I was watching a diamond – exquisite, but cold.

In his director’s notes, Paata Tsikurishvili says “we have chosen to embrace the absurdist elements of his story and highlight the Master’s (and Bulgakov’s) own artistic and religious struggle.” Esoteric struggles work in literary terms – but do they translate well to physical action and is the audience able to connect?

On the surface we have ninety minutes of stunning production visuals, especially the work of Anastasia Rurikov Simes, whose set and costumes are an eerie evocation of a surreal Soviet Union – like watching propaganda posters come to life through the prism of The Red Shoes. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: King Arthur

Ben Cunis as King Arthur, Vato Tsikurishvili as Lancelot, and Ensemble in Synetic Theater's "King Arthur." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

I’m fast running out of superlatives to describe Synetic Theater productions. They operate in a riveting crossfire where power meets grace, muscle meets sinew. And this time, for King Arthur, they do it all in ankle-deep water.

That’s right, the brutally complex swordplay, the exquisite dancing, the emotional physicality – all take place on a stage filled with water. Sometimes it even rains.

Superb.

Synetic is often described as presenting “physical theater” – to denote its wordless style. But I like to think of it more as “psychological theater.” Director Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili tease out character’s deep motivations into the physical realm, like taking micro-expressions and elongating them. As their brilliant foray into the shattered psyche of a triple-headed Iago in Othello showed, they are masters of the psychological nuance. One might not immediately think the King Arthur legend lends itself to that approach (isn’t it just a love triangle? you might initially think) but they mine the depths of betrayal to make what could be cardboard characters truly live.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Othello

Roger Payano as Othello in Synetic Theater's production of "Othello." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Ambition. Envy. Lust.

This is the triple-headed monster that drives one of Shakespeare’s most explored villians, the manipulative yet seductive Iago whose knowledge of his rivals’ secrets and fears are the keys to a devious plot. His motivation being so multi-faceted and open to different interpretations, he tends to grasp control of a play that is, after all, named for another character. It’s an issue every production has to face – do you focus on the monster or the hero?

Now through July 3 you can witness how effectively Synetic Theater tackles this issue with their take on Othello. It’s their sixth wordless Shakespeare production – I thought they had reached the pinnacle with their last outing, Antony and Cleopatra, but clearly there’s no end to the brilliance of this company when it applies its physical theater style to the Bard. Hyperbole? Head to the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater and judge for yourself.

Here Othello’s polished veneer of self-control masks a deep wound into which Iago writhes like a parasite, whereas Iago’s wound is shown to us right from the start. As they are so entwined, they are equally the focus. This is a production marked by psychic pain so palpable it made me shake. It’s also fast, frenzied and exquisite. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Kafka’s Metamorphosis

John Milosich in Synetic Theater's production of "Kafka's Metamorphosis." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

I’ve always had a fascination with insects – the hive brain, the rigid delineation between workers and soldiers, queens and drones, a repulsive caterpillar breaking out of a hard cocoon as a delicate butterfly, the viciousness of praying mantis sex, spider babies eating their mother… just your average day in a realm all around us, a kingdom we barely notice.

Gregor Samsa, the unfortunate center of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, leads a life not unlike that of a worker drone, slaving away at a clerical job so that his family may live, in particular his beloved sister Greta. His creator, writer Franz Kafka, lives in a body progresively weakened and diseased while pining for his beautiful love Felice. Director Derek Goldman takes these two and morphs them together in his adaption for Synetic Theater of the story of a man waking up one morning to find himself transformed into a nasty and unwieldy insect body. Here, Kafka’s internal rage at his body’s weakness and his psychological wounds are directly manifested as he creates Gregor’s world.

Now through May 22, you can witness this grostesque and haunted world (“creepy,” as artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili said at opening) at Rosslyn Spectrum, where the stage has been incredibly and nauseatingly transformed into wild angles by designer Natsu Onoda. Your stomach will also be turned by the sound design of James Bigbee Garver, evoking a gooey, icky insect world. It’s all lit with eerie unnaturalness by Colin K. Bills. The production design is top notch.

The adaptation itself? It’s brave, and filled with some startling imagery, but ultimately left me cold. You may feel differently, but splitting the main character dropped the stakes significantly – I found myself unable to care for Gregor’s plight, and just wished Kafka would stay behind the writing desk. That being said, it’s an intriguing production whose merits I’m still debating. Continue reading

Penn Quarter, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Antony & Cleopatra

GBS5766

Ben Cunis and Irina Tsikurishvili in Synetic Theater's "Antony & Cleopatra." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw.

If you want to know why Synetic Theater has been nominated for 13 Helen Hayes awards for its productions last year, go see Antony & Cleopatra. Now. Everything this robust and vibrant company is beloved for is here on stage at the Lansburgh’s beautiful proscenium, as part of an alliance with Shakespeare Theatre that I hope means more Synetic productions at the Penn Quarter space. Their glorious athleticism, sensual energy and biting humor are all here, framed by what founding artistic director Paata Tsikurishvili calls their “art of silence.”

The characters of Antony and Cleopatra are full of lust – for life, for power, for each other. It’s a play highlighting the contradictory battle between masculine and feminine desires inherent in both sexes, and at its heart is the human ambition to seize the moment even at the risk of total loss.

Stakes are pretty high here, as director Paata Tsikurishvili makes clear by adding a prologue to the actual Shakespearean plot – the meeting of Caesar and Cleopatra, their ambition no less than to rule the entire known world together, uniting East and West. As they stand together, a map of the world splits up and swirls about them in an orgy of power. This is the ultimate gamble, player beware.
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The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Dracula

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Dan Istrate and Natalie Berk in Synetic Theater's "Dracula." Photo credit: Graeme B. Shaw

Oh, Vlad. How we missed you. Vampires are back in fashion, sucking blood and living forever. Sad soulful looks are fine, but let’s say you prefer your undead to be more aggressive and lustful. Synetic Theater’s revamp of their smash rendition of “Dracula” will be just the thing to get you in the mood. For Halloween, that is!

The company throws themselves into the well-known tale with unbridled enthusiasm. In some cases, they are literally thrown – the physicality of Irina Tsikurishvili’s choreography caused the audience to gasp repeatedly. As always, the artistry of the ensemble creates breathtaking images – fluttering hands for firelight, tossing hair as horses, a crawling bat – too many to mention.

As Dracula, Dan Istrate’s raw masculinity and wry humor were so on target, I thought the women next to me were going to have several Victorian fainting spells. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

puck_alex_mills2

Alex Mills as Puck in Synetic Theater's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Photo credit Raymond Gniewek, courtesy of Synetic.

Blending both breathtaking physical control and hypnotic emotional projection, Synetic Theater is the bright star of the Washington arts scene. Seriously, if anyone ever yaps on and on to you about DC having nothing to offer in the way of brilliant theater, get them to the current production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and dare them to say so afterwards. This is both a beautiful and hysterical night out. For a company known for dark tragedy and breaking hearts, they also prove themselves more than capable of splitting your sides.

Right from the start Synetic puts their signature wordless stamp on a play most of us know well. The fairies are powerful, pagan and exotic. In a perfect twist on the plot, Puck becomes the orphan that Titania and Oberon fight over, instead of it being some nameless child, and that battle is a glorious dangerous display of both the physical and the magical. The thwarted young lovers are discovered drinking away their sorrows with a bottle of Jack. They go from sadly tipsy to athletically audacious on a dime – there are some frighteningly daredevil toss-and-catch fights. The goofy “rude mechanicals” are a hodge-podge of leather and denim. There’s even a delightful nod to the Marx Brothers with a pianist in a Chico hat (and was that a riff from “A Night at the Opera” maybe? brilliant job as always by composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze). Not to mention a hilarious parody of Synetic’s past Shakespeare productions. You have to love a company that can make fun of itself. Continue reading