What happens when a good show doesn’t know when to end?

December 6, 2007

It dampens the fond memories, that’s what happens. Last week at BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Pappa Tarahumara’s Ship in a View began with a pleasant aura of mystery. In complete darkness, an object with two lights (the ship) progressed across the space, setting up the mystery. When the lights came up, a mist covered the upstage space, so foreground figures seemed to be part of a waking scene while others were part of a misty dreamlike state. Although the ship in the dark was small, almost toy-sized, a huge mast dominated the stage. A woman entered, reached for a fallen bicycle, then went over to the mast and opened her mouth in a silent scream. Various characters populated the stage, doing odd and amazing things. At times it was a nightmare, with people taunting each other and going giddy in the face of catastrophe. At other times, with the misty stage and excellent dancers in grey, it was a good dream. The stage activities were filled with inventiveness.

    Ship in a View, choreographed by Hiroshi Koike, ended with a powerful, glimmering image. A myriad of tiny revolving lights descended from the rafters, and one dancer, lying on a flat board, levitated up through this forest of lights. It was a beautiful, breathtaking ascension to heaven or a spiritual equivalent. I was savoring those last moments, ready to clap like mad when the curtain descended. But, as it turned out, those were not the last moments. The dance impertinently continued. At that point, I could no longer take anything in. Ship With a View outstayed its welcome. Later, while mentally going over the piece, I had to work hard to remember the stunning first two thirds of the piece that came before the (to my mind) long, irrelevant coda.