Meg Stuart, Benoît Lachambre, Hahn Rowe

April 27, 2006

Meg Stuart and Benoit Lachambre in
Forgeries, Love, and Other Matters.
Photographed by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy DTW

Forgeries, Love and Other Matters
Meg Stuart, Benoît Lachambre, Hahn Rowe

Dance Theater Workshop, NYC

April 27–29, 2006


The following compilation is taken from reviews submitted in Wendy Perron’s “Writing on Dance” class. The weekly class was held at DTW during the spring of 2006, and the assignment was to see this concert and write a review.


Have you ever taken acid? It feels like a week-long experience crammed into a couple of hours. You’ll be crying and arguing one minute, laughing and running around the next, and then trying to push your face into the plush carpet seconds later. In that same crazy overwhelming way, Meg Stuart and Benoît Lachambre’s Forgeries, Love, and Other Matters crams the huge complexity of a relationship between two people—years of interaction and processing—into an intense 90 minutes. Their emotional landscape is laid bare. We see all the crying, the laughing, the experimenting, the itching, the flailing, the push, the pull, the pain, the fear, the love, the stop, start, stop and start over again—in short, all the private, intimate details of being lost and alone with someone else. —Sarah Keough


Here, fact and fiction fuse. Images dissolve like memory, or something equally elemental. A couple emerges from shadow, weeping. A man becomes a Sasquatch, a woman becomes a plastic cosmonaut, and both drink gasoline. Joined by a 20-foot umbilicus, the couple tumbles and climbs Doris Dziersk’s sloped scenography (containing its own bizarre surprises). Hahn Rowe’s score skillfully weaves celestial howls with droll commentary, heightening the twang and the tang of this strange travelogue. —Brendan McCall


As perhaps the only survivors of a lost world, the two drifters, a type of Vladimir and Estragon, play the game of love and chance. They both sit, legs open, with nothing to do or to lose, or they run into the space tied together by a rope, rolling and falling down a hill, joined for eternity as an allegory of their hopeless love. Agitated by compulsive movements, she painfully walks with her high heels on the soft floor and stumbles. Like a blind and mad man, he runs and falls; she laughs and takes from her jacket a tube of Nestle’s Condensed Milk; he, starving, licks his fingers; she tries to get rid of dust on her clothes, face, and skin. Performed by Meg Stuart, an American choreographer living in Europe, and Benoît Lachambre, a Montreal-based performer, the two tramps lead the audience into a bleak world. —Nicole Birmann Bloom


is poetry rather than prose, and as such defies traditional analysis. A close reading might describe the mise en scène: an extravagant shaggy platform molded into a rolling terrain; the stage lights reflecting haloed suns and moons onto the hammered metal backdrop; the carefully cluttered musical implements piled onto steamer trunks and plastic attaché cases. It might analyze the poem’s verbs: Stuart’s obsessive compulsive fidgeting and her reckless jouncing; Lachambre’s strung-out lurching, his distracted sex-posturing and his altered-state simian loping; Rowe’s delicate hand gestures, his confident stage managing and his elegant sprawling. —Alycia Somers


Man and Woman stare into the beyond. On a beautiful heath they sit, shed a tear or two. He flings himself to the ground and sobs. The music drones on, surging at times, barely audible other times. I begin to notice her tan boots, his topknot. More tears, they reach out and kiss. In time she circles her right arm against her right inner thigh, laughing, overcome with hilarity. Coughing from the audience accompanies more staring. She drinks from a tube of lotion and vomits. He catches the stuff and gobbles it up. He goes in spasms. She moves out of range. —Michael Mao


“Get ready for our adventure,” says Meg Stuart. She’s just emerged, in a blond wig and pink socks, from one of several furry mounds in the soft, brown, carpeted landscape of the DTW stage. She offers a bag of clothes to naked Benoît Lachambre, newly human after furiously pacing the stage, knuckles to the floor, as an ape. “Nice and brown out here,” she says, coming on to him. Downstage of the mound, Hahn Rowe, recruited to help with the seduction, scrambles to find mood music. Which LP? Organ Moods or Surprise Party on Paradise Island? Stuart grabs a video monitor from among Rowe’s instruments and sets it on a mound, covering it with a Navajo blanket. We see images of assorted flora and fauna. We must be outdoors. Lachambre’s transformation is now complete—he’s a fully dressed cool guy, with shades and a leather jacket. “I’m ready,” she says, lying on her back, her pink underpants visible. Rowe struggles to place an LP on the turntable. “I can’t find the hole,” he whispers. An earthworm moves across the video monitor in close-up, its segments expanding and contracting like an accordion. Stuart and Lachambre are side by side on the carpet. But is there a change in mood? “Let’s save it for the right moment,” she says. Suddenly everything—arms, legs, heads slightly raised—is trapped in slow motion. But then Stuart rises, walks upstage, and crouches to pee. Ah, romance! —Maja Lorkovic


Later, he plunges down a hole and finds himself in a starkly lit, white room. Like an ostrich, she pokes her head into another trap hole and emerges with random possessions that she madly overstuffs into her clothing. She joins her counterpart in the bright room, and he, dressed in a lab coat, mechanically removes the objects from her skin and classifies each item with foolishly obvious characteristics in increasing speed before discarding them to the ground. Left with nothing else to catalog, the lab monster turns his attention to a naked Stuart. Upon examination, indifferent rumination ensues. “There are no inquiring looks in this place. There are no emotions in this place. There is no laughter in this place. There is no reason to stay in this place.” —Jessica Williams


With a palette of imaginative, illogical elements, the evening fell together magically like a destined accident. One could look back at the end and see everything that came before with new eyes. Those titillating near misses and non-sequitors from the first half fueled as much as they frustrated. The tension built steadily as each action digressed, interrupting any expected completion and depriving one of a satisfying connection. The ride peaked in a culmination of the hilarious and bizarre. Then, sliding down the carpeted hillside, the momentum released and ended with the rapture of new love. The impressive feat in this jumble of imagery was that it skillfully manipulated its audience to create the classic experience of build-climax-catharsis, while being fully contemporary and informal with its nonlinear “structure by association.” The work’s images came together seemingly by osmosis to give us what dance does best: a palpable experience of something that is otherwise intangible. —Pele Bauch


Sobs turn to laughter and laughter turns to sobs. Deranged by their shared anguish, Stuart and Lachambre fidget as if plagued by some kind of obsession. Stuart drinks from a bottle of lotion and soothes herself with a wet wipe. Lachambre dry heaves like an addict and soon begins to convulse as if having a seizure. Meanwhile, Stuart struggles futilely with a first aid kit, her boots sinking into the unstable ground of the hill. All this is exhausting, but, like rubbernecking on the highway, the voyeurism is strangely pleasurable. “Are we there yet?” Stuart asks, leaving one to wonder if by “there” she means the end of the world, or the end of this couple’s rope. —Catherine Massey


Throughout Forgeries, the movement refrains from utilizing Stuart’s obviously extensive ability, in favor of a more primitive form of motion, where Lachambre plays a highly charged yin to her primal yang. In the end, the struggle seems to be worthwhile. At least the two build themselves a cheerful tent, which they crawl into. And Rowe lays down his instruments for a well-earned nap. —Marianne Camarda