TAKES at Philadelphia Live Arts

A cubed scrim in the warehouse space of the Hub is the stage for Nichole Canuso dancey-filmic installation TAKES. She inhabits that space, with no aesthetic distance from the audience with Dito van Reigersberg, some beaten whicker furniture, a birdcage and record player. Are these private moments of a couple circa 1961? Is this one evening in the life of, or a lifetime? They play records, they dance around a bit, they up end the wicker (ugly either way), they hide airmail letters in the birdcage. Scenes from a marriage? A day room in a psyche ward? A dream?

All through this the couple is being traced in bleached out projections on all sides of the transparent cube. The layers, the exposition of their faces, Canuso’s reclining torso looms and their faces refract like a hall of mirrors. It has a cumulative hypnotic effect and people start to move around the cube (as they were invited to do so as if this were a living sculpture).

There is no linear narrative and Canuso’s dance template is limited and she could strengthen the dance side of it, but this is a whimsical, melancholic scenario and one of the most intriguing pieces Canuso has created. Nicole and Dito have beautiful, secreted chemistry. At one point he dresses her as if she were helpless. Is she passed out or debilitated. These characters remain a mystery, but the intimacy they conjure in performance is palpable.

The visual effects which Canuso called a ‘video landscape’ is achieved through the tech wizardry of Lars Jan. Just as impressive is Mike Kiley sound design and the original music that goes from 60s sambas to concussively spiked overlays. There are real – time projection, but sometimes it is manipulated or delayed, which plays with your depth & time perception. There are after burns of moments that stick in the mind. Those moments when Canuso exhitbits memorable dramaturg.