(photoLW) Flash reviews- Looking for a last minute recommendation as the Fringe Festival winds down this weekend go for The Renegade Theater production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame | A Mute play. It embodies everything the Fringe is about, artistry, uniqueness and audience engagement. Renegade Artistic Director Michael Dirkin developed the piece over the past year and his inventive has troubadour esprit and luminous craft. The Presbyterian Church at 21st & Walnut couldn’t be a better stand in for Notre Dam & ’Sanctuary’ for Quasimodo to save himself and Esmerlda.
Hugo’s unrequited love story set in 15th century France is a j’accuse against a corrupt political and religious hubris. This troupe to make use all of the organ loft, the vaulted eaves & stonework providing a magnificent set for Hugo’s story about human cruelty. Mason Rosenthal is credited for ’movement’ and is pantomime, dance and narrative clarity at its best. Percussionist and soundtrack artist Adam Vidiksis floods the room with music and effects that. in fact, brings to mind some of the great composers of silent film. Costume designer Rebecca Kanach’s period designs ( knave vests, soldier doublets) not mention Esmerlda’s tarnished couture dance dress, just keeps giving.
Lee Minora radiating Esmerlda’s seductiveness and harsh life. Hug’s Quasimodo can go in the pantheon of great parts that holds a mirror up to an ugly society. And Dan Higbee‘s silent performance is luminous with dignity and power. In a riveting bit of choreography, after being lashed on the block, Quasimodo liberates is suffering by ringing his bells in pantomime Vidiksis’ sound design and these images engulfing the cathedral. Dirkin using the whole church, with a keen sense of scene focus and pace, crucial in a silent play. He also elicits wonderful performances from this true ensemble cast.
Later, on Spring Garden across town at the Latvian Society, there is a candle-lit maze that leads to dancer-choreographer Gunnar Montana’s Resurrection Room upstairs. Dancer Stephie-Lyneice, in just her bra and panties lands in a foreboding smoke filled in a chat room with her ‘operating system’ who is activating a futuristic virtual game of virtual survival. She is confronted by a cyborgy thing with a pink melty head with tubes sticking in and out…uggggllly. He is a threatening presence, but eventually become her protector after they engage in a rather rough and tumble dance macabre. Eventually his shirt comes off and his Gunnar sculpted torso is less hazardous. But it’s Beauty and the Beast meets Hellraiser, as other menacing creatures lurch with intent.
The pink melty headed drag geishas in 9-inch heels, who engage a runway stomp, fan and sash snap fight. There s a 9 ft. transformer dude in blade runner stilts and lots of breastplate hardware that Montana does battle with. Later, Gunnar slinks out of the smoke a rockass satyr wearing nothing but a half-pink beard, and a dancebelt with day-glo hairs sticking out & proceeds to attack with pink ooze. Kevin D. Washington also just in a dancebelt, has a scary pink Medusa mane that he can lash around doing mile-high kicks and ninja splits. Montana makes this glamour and gamely fetishista with a lot of props and effects, definitely a raucous cine-crowdpleaser. For dance fans, Resurrection Room is lighter on Montana’s dynamic choreography, but what there is, does hypnotize. A little more dance and movement content to overpower the hardware visuals and it will go to the next level.