Synetic, that wonderfully physical innovative movement theater in Crystal City, has come up with a bold streaming idea. They have taken chapters from “The Decameron,” a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio during the Black Plague. The book, at over 1,000 pages, consists of 100 stories “told” by a group of seven young women and three young men who are cloistered together to wait out the plague. Written in a form of the Florentine language, Synetic has given 30 of it’s young artists free rein to adapt these stores and to play them out in Italian. Just kidding. With Synetic, language is in the body, and the creativity of the performers, each of whom is mentored by a Synetic pro, offers a stunning look at telling stories mutely.
“This is Synetic’s inaugural designed-for-digital production, and, based on the first three, it is epic.”
The language consists of gestures, dance, choreography, expressions, and a carefully curated selection of props and images.
The first was by Maria Simpkins based on “The Prologue” of “The Decameron.” In four-and-a-half minutes, she conveyed a range of emotions confronting a woman quarantines in a small space — the making the best of it, the loneliness, the uncertainty, the nerves wearing thin, and finally a type of soldiering on. She was accompanied at times by a somewhat dizzying array of computer images and graphics, which did lend some insight to a mind working overtime to control anxiety and find comfort. The seep-into-your-bones music was by Jessica Muse.
The second vignette was adapted from “Day 1, Story 5” (the Marchioness of Montferrat frustrates the desires of the king over a forced dinner). Played by Irene Hamilton as the Marchioness and Dustyn Bain as the king, it is a very funny and sarcastically lewd skewering of the king’s pretensions at seduction. Who knew chickens as hand mitts could be so funny. The cinematography is by Olivia Santos and music by Sashathem.
The third and final offering for Day 1 was from Dallas and Tori Tolentino and based on “Day 9, Story 7.” What happens when a young couple — well, one half of it — don’t take seriously enough the reality of a plague or pandemic? What is it like to be the partner that in the end has to face the rashness of the other’s choices alone? During the 12-and-a-half minutes, they manage to encapsulate an entire relationship into movement and it is divine. Those eyes were made for expressions of unfettered joy and grief. The choreography is by Victoria Tolentino and the wedding dress by Ré & Erik Teague. The music credits are: “The Simple Solution” (Million Eyes), “Mr. Thomas’ Decision” (Benjamin Monday), “Residumm” (Silver Maple), Gus Trickle” (Hampus Naeselius), “Emotional Piano” (Joystock), and “The Secretary’s Daughter” (Benjamin Monday).
This is Synetic’s inaugural designed-for-digital production, and, based on the first three, it is epic. The first day was mesmerizing and creative and I can’t wait for the next nine.
Running Time: The vignettes vary between 3-1/2 and 12-1/2 minutes.Show
Advisory: Signs of death/dying, sexual innuendo.
“The Decameron” runs July 10 through July 31, 2020 on a pay-what-you-can basis. For 10 days, three shows will be released each day. For more information, please click here.