Review by Debbie Kay Cook
I had the pleasure of seeing What We Do directed by Polina Ionina. This piece is in a series of three shows that explores the human condition around attention, attraction, separation and oneness. This movement theatre piece was staged at the IRT Theater in the Meatpacking District. It is a tiny proscenium theater with a capacity of thirty seats, so it is meant to be an intimate experience for the patrons as the performers interact, and examine at various points, with the audience.
Props for this performance were non-existent out of necessity. The performers needed the room to move so that the audience could visualize those concepts they were attempting to express. Not only was this done through movement, they used audio narratives that sounded like a TED Talk dissertation on entanglement theory and quantum mechanics balanced by a Buddhist take on the illusion of self. This was all interspersed with rainstorm soundscapes. Otherwise, there was no dialogue. The use of the narratives and soundscapes was intriguing and disconcerting if taken out of the context of what the performers were attempting to express.
The performers athleticism and synchronicity was superb. While individualism was inherent, there was an interconnectedness that drew me in. It was visually confusing at first and then I had my “a-ha moment” were it all made sense. I’m not sure if the intended result was to say that humans are social creatures and need each other but that was the impression that I got. It was not so much about the how but about the need to find companionship. A notable performance came from Andre Vauthey whose reactive energy as mesmerizing.
While overall it was an excellent performance from a technical standpoint, I’m not sure that one could find it enjoyable unless they analyzed it from a spiritual-scientific-psychological perspective. That is the crux of this performance. One has to look inward before they can look outward. I would definitely have to see this performance again to see if I could gain further enlightenment and understanding.