Sunday, December 20, 2009


Great Section of FELA on Stephan Colbert - this is the show...

Review: FELA 12/2/09
It is hard to comment on this relentlessly moving docu-show, FELA. And, I don’t mean moving-to-tears kind of moving - but rather, full of dance movement and joy (is joy a real thing?). I saw a version of it at NYU’s Skirball a few years ago - on Bill T. Jone’s company. It was unmemorable, and not being a fan of his, I hesitated when I received an invitation to go see the show that recently opened on Broadway. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and especially theater-goers who spend hard earned money to do so - and I mean no malice. I was surprised to love the music playing a great beat as we walked in and a fantastic colorfully busy scenic design that covered the outer walls of the theater as well as on stage. Masks, photos of political figures, a portrait of Fela’s mother, images that I am sure were significant in some why, that I didn’t understand but it didn’t matter. Great and fun collages. The upbeat African dances and dancers were refreshing. A free-form kind of movement ensued and we met the storyteller - Fela himself. The show was about his journey - kind of stream-of-consciousness, told through text and song. He talked about who inspired him musically and how he wanted to create his own sound. Then he showed us a break down of his music from drums to bass to “moving the pelvis”. He went to Europe to work and the US (where he didn’t understand the whole attitude against black people), but kept returning to Nigeria. He looked for guidance from his dead mother who would appear to him at times in the piece. The first was like a Vision - she standing in a glow of light above - through her and streaming out of her. It would connect with the photo image of her out in the audience glowing, shedding light it what looked like streams of falling tears. Another time she sang a powerful song - but the staging of it at the end was odd. When she reached the powerful ending guys were moving the staircase she stood on to the side - not good staging - it made your power moment and impact weak. Then there was an audience interactive segment where Fela makes everyone stand up and move their pelvis - learn the moves - using numbers around a clock to reflect the pelvis movement. The idea sort of worked.
All in all the music never stopped - the lead character never stopped with his storytelling and the dancers kept moving. If anything, it felt like a party that was never going to stop and at a certain time I wanted to go home. Some people did leave before the 2nd Act was over - which was less focused than the the first and had a decent scene that wasn’t clear why it was there. We didn’t find out too much about his personal life - except that all his wives and mother were killed by the police for some reason, that wasn’t clear.
I would edit both the first and second act a bit more - in fact a 90 min. version with no intermission would be move even more.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]