At the BAT, The Dancing Could’ve Been Wilder (2 Stars)
Dancing Wilde – Director/Choreographer Danielle Lucas; Adapted by Nicole Howard and Elizabeth DuPre (from the works of Oscar Wilde); Produced by the Boston Actors Theater at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave, Boston thru June 28th
In wrapping up their tenth anniversary, the Boston Actors Theater was spot on with a great concept. However, too many elements made for too small of a show for the ticket price. The hour-long piece could’ve done with a little less dancing and a little more “wilde” (as in the tone, AND the admired artist). With an ensemble cast taking on multiple roles, their efforts and costume changes should certainly be applauded, but their sheer talent couldn’t make up for the content.
Oscar Wilde is best known for plays such as ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’, or ‘The Ideal Husband’, due to their insight and entertaining witticism. As far as the stories presented in Dancing Wilde, there is a reason these tales are not quite as popular. While the ideas on society and morals should make an audience think, and the themes of these plays are important, the few who enjoy these tales are more than likely Wilde buffs, or gluttons for sadness. There is nothing uplifting about the dwarf from The Birthday of the Infanta, and The Young King is both predictable and stressful. While one could argue that the societal messages Oscar Wilde had intended with these pieces is important and should be remembered, the rebuttal would be that perhaps these stories are best saved for the theater student, and perhaps not the young theater goers sitting in the front row whose mother had them leave 40 minutes in.
What was most surprising was the lack of passion (or flow) during the dance sequences. The actors, as wonderful as they were at reciting lines and switching characters, may need a few lessons on looking up from their feet and relaxing a bit. They certainly memorized the choreography, but were unable to let go, and their disjointed movement was incredibly distracting. There seemed to be nothing lovely or “Wilde” about anything aside from the dialogue. Not to mention that the whole hour ended so abruptly, it felt as though someone pulled the plug on a mediocre ending.
It’s tough to give the piece an overall “yay” or “nay” due to how truly important Mr. Wilde is to the theater community. My guess would be that a Wilde fanatic wouldn’t be so picky about the content and be very satisfied with the performers, so long as they ignore the dance numbers. Perhaps the BAT should take some cues from Central Square Theater’s Arabian Nights and adapt their next storytelling piece in a more vibrant or uplifting manner. BAT recommends no children under age 8 due to content. For more info, go to: http://www.bostonactorstheater.com/