A Review

Sara Pearson, Patrik Widrig and Company
at the Joyce

The Return of Lot's Wife

Joyce Theater, New York City, January 17-19, 2003

Music composed by Carter Burwell, and played by himself with Eric Friedlander, Joyce Hammann, and Lois Martin.  Poetry recited by Kouross Esmaeli.  Set design by Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig and constructed by Carlo Adinolfi and Emily Gaunt.

Sara Pearson in Return of Lot's WifeI had my very favorite seat: dead center and well back, and the auditorium was full.  (There is something about the compaction of folk, a group experience, which adds clarity and enjoyment to perception.)  The house lights dimmed out and the live music, together with the intonation in Farsi, took us to the Near East.  The curtain rose and we were inducted into the motion vocabulary for the evening—the twisted foot, the postured pauses, the darting and stopping, which made the work comfortable, legible.

As the title implies, the work brings up to date the legends of Lot’s wife (as the dialogue tells us, “no-name” wife) with wit and pathos, the frantic urgency of escape, the despair of leaving.  And how can I explain that the image of Sara pouring Morton’s Salt from the box over her body is one of dance’s lyric moments of sorrow?  And how the bouncing from abstract motion to vernacular dialogue relieves and focuses?  And how Patrik’s patient and reiterative sweeping of the salt tells of his patient and everlasting sadness?

The set pieces are ingeniously designed to be handled by the dancers themselves.  The open framework, the designed tapis, the occasional contemporary furnishings, placed and then removed from one stage area to another, add to the sense of time’s passage.

The dancing?  A duet enters upstage right, back to us, bent over, moving like live hieroglyphics, a soloist echoes downstage left.  (This is for me a most memorable moment; its beauty made me sit up straighter.)  The corps dancers, Katherine Fisher and Lindsay Gilmour, are skilled and present, matching Sara and Patrik.

Could I pick?  Sure I could, but I’m not going to.  I had a heck of a good time.  Imagine Louie Fuller in salt?  The quartet pouring salt in really beautiful swirls and turns?  What a way to end a great evening at the theater.

— Ruth E. Grauert, January 18, 2003