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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Romola & Nijinsky

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 13, 2003
New York, NY

About the Author:

Romola & Nijinsky

(Deux Mariages)

By Lynne Alvarez
Directed by David Levine

Choreographed by Robert La Fosse

Set Design by Michael Byrnes
Costume Design by Claudia Stephens
Lighting Design by Lap-Chi Chu
Sound Design, Jane Shaw
Original Composition, Brendan Connelly
Production Stage Manager, Erika Timperman
Production Manager, Lester P. Grant
Press Representative, Jeffrey Richards Associates

Primary Stages

Performed by: Michelle Lookadoo, Laura Martin, Matt Rivera, John McAdams, Janet Zarish, Kelly Hutchinson, David Barlow, Daniel Oreskes, and Allen Fitzpatrick.

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 12, 2003

I absolutely love everything Nijinsky, that is, Vaslav Nijinsky (See Bio), of the early 1900's Ballet Russe in Leningrad, the great Nijinsky, who choreographed and danced the controversial faun in L'Après-Midi d'un Faune in Paris, as well as Jeux and Le Sacre du Printemps. I was not disappointed. This was a campy work, with two ballet dancers on the side, as a Greek Chorus or as mimes, with facial expressions for the mood of the moment, and ballet choreography onstage and along ballet barres, which were built into the walls. David Barlow, who seemed to have the requisite sensitivity and Russian features of Nijinsky, was perfectly cast, as he proudly walked the ship, SS Avon, circa 1913, seducing Romola DePulsky, a ballet dancer, herself, who was already obsessed with Nijinsky, and who derived from Polish aristocracy.

Nijinsky was the forever and quintessential faun, with the angular hands and feet, stretching along the stage, just as I had seen Rudolf Nureyev perform …Faun, many years ago. Lynne Alvarez and her team have inserted snippets of sound track from …Faun and Sacre…, which are somatically evocative, for the balletomanes in the audience. When the music appears, the action develops along the theme of those tremendous and rarely performed ballets. Romola presents a soliloquy, and let it suffice that she was also well cast, and exuded desire and incomprehensible patience, with Nijinsky's developing stages of mental illness. For a dark theme, this was a light play, yet satisfying intellectually, aesthetically, and emotionally.

Romola's first costume is characteristic of the costume of the nymphs in the original …Faun. It was a nymph in that costume, in …Faun, that mesmerized the faun and drove him wild, when the nymph's scarf fell, as she disappeared. Daniel Oreskes, as Sergei Diagheliff, had the foreboding and vengeful, yet slightly vulnerable, demeanor, so necessary to mentally imprison Nijinsky, as he sought to give love to his new wife, but kept imagining the jealous Diagheliff nearby. Diagheliff wanted to enslave Nijinsky for his Ballet Russes and for himself, a young lover and a great dancer. Nijinsky was torn and tormented.

Included in Act II, which takes place in Buenos Aires in 1913, is a Drag Queen Tango, also performed by Mr. Oreskes, who can really act. He was so avant-garde in each role, that avant-garde seemed the norm. I actually heard a few bars of Piazolla, as background to the Buenos Aires scenes. The mother-daughter relationship, with an aristocratic and refined attitude, was entertaining and provided a sense of structure to the remaining, unstructured relationships.

Inherent in Act III is Nijinsky's mental breakdown and imploding behavior, rife with edgy religiosity. His mad dance, flailing in the air, to snippets of Sacre…is followed again by snippets of …Faun, as he ends the play, stretched onstage, in the faun's final ballet position, with provocative connotations. Robert La Fosse's choreography is well suited to the small stage and campy theme. Allen Fitzpatrick, as the Baron, and John McAdams, as a man with a pipe, were excellent additions to the shipboard and South American events. The connotations of homosexuality and bisexuality were effective and appropriate to this play. Brendan Connelly's accompanying score, Michael Byrnes' sets, and Claudia Stephens' costumes were outstanding. This was a really nice evening, for a balletomane, such as I.

Quickly purchase a ticket for Romola & Nijinsky, in performances through June 1. Call 212.333.4052.

Romola & Nijinsky: Laura Martin, Michelle Lookadoo
Photo courtesy of James Leynse

Romola & Nijinsky: Janet Zarish, Kelly Hutchinson
Photo courtesy of James Leynse

Romola & Nijinsky: Kelly Hutchinson, David Barlow
Photo courtesy of James Leynse

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