Ever Your Own, Edgar/The Yellow Wallpaper | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Ever Your Own, Edgar/The Yellow Wallpaper

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Ever Your Own, Edgar and The Yellow Wallpaper, Adler Danztheatre Project, at the Belle Plaine Studios, through May 17. These works combining text and dance end up doing justice to neither. The first, based on writings by Edgar Allan Poe, sets him adrift among stereotyped muses, harpies, and martyrs intended to represent the women in his life. A few danced encounters are erotic, but in an obvious, stylized, overly polite way. Joseph Gilbert looks the part of Poe, but his lack of vocal control reduces to melodrama Edgar's swoops from euphoria to despair. A sharp lean against a chair that finally gives way has a certain interest, and Gilbert handles it well, but the move is so risky it detracts from the storytelling. The women are capable dancers, but none shows much acting talent, and Ellyzabeth Adler's choreography is uninventive, with more poses than movement.

The Yellow Wallpaper, adapted from the feminist classic about a woman driven mad by constraint, is equally inept: though there are ways to stage texts other than putting books in actors' hands, Adler hasn't found them. Her only clever idea--silhouetting dancers behind drapery to show how the woman feels trapped behind wallpaper--is ruined by insufficient lighting. As in Edgar, instead of integrated movement and text we get long stretches of words interrupted by busy choreography. The final lift, representing the protagonist's death, is good, but a central question remains: how could these static sources inspire dance?

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