Day 10, the final day of Synetic artists’ epic 30-story interpretations of tales from The Decameron, has come to an end. However, the stories will be available until July 31, 2020. They all have one thing in common (besides the source materials, so I suppose it’s actually two things in common). This endeavor showcases the talents, creativity, imagination, and in some cases, exquisite daftness of the artists’ minds.
The past 10 days Synetic has given us a gift of joy and ideas. . . .
Jackie Madejski started the final day off with an offering based on “Day 7, Story 2.” This was another tale of a wife with a roving eye (evidently this was either very common in the 15th century or wishful thinking by a number of people). Again, a husband returns home early from job hunting and nearly catches his wife with her lover. She persuades her lover to jump into a magic jar which somehow just swallows him up. The husband is suspicious, but can’t find anyone. But he has found a buyer for the jug which will give them needed cash. The wife, thinking quickly, announces she has already found a buyer for the jug, but this one will pay double. So the lover pays for his freedom, and the husband and wife are happy. Madejski has a very expressive face and great sense of comedic timing. The work lent itself well to the vaudeville/silent movie ethos it parodied. This three-minute episode featured Greg Madejski and Joe Madejski, with music by Tiger Rag-One Step, Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
The second story was by Chelsea Thaler, based on “Day 4, Story 7,” with a nod to inspiration from the film “The Seventh Seal,” by Ingmar Bergman. This was a much more cryptic work with some gorgeous photography of a beach and wild sea. Thaler portrayed a woman disillusioned by the material world who enters a game of chess with death on the beach. Some well-done special effects captured moments of the game with mind-bending movements of the chess set and Thaler. It had a haunting quality that was enhanced by the black and white video. Music and editing was by Nick Szpara and special thanks to Joe Marhamati, Vida the Dog, and Synetic Theater, as well as special recognition and acknowledgment to the Nanticoke, Lenape, Occohanock, and other tribal nations who protected this coastline for generations. It clocked in at about five minutes.
The final story of the series was by Katherine DuBois, based on “Day 2, Story 7.” It is an exuberant story of a young woman who takes a chance to escape the confines of her privileged life and sets out to explore the world by herself. It was a fitting ending for the series as it celebrated the resilience of humans who find themselves in unknown situations and persevere. The set was constricted by an ornate, possibly gilded, frame set in the outline of a bowl, or a world. Within that frame, DuBois explores different lands and environments, each with it’s own hat to help place the setting. The use of props and a slightly askew dimension of some of them was instrumental in differentiating the places she traveled to. It was a surprisingly quick 14 minutes and allowed for a nice story arc of facing perils and overcoming them. Her confidence had swelled by the end to be downright jaunty.
The past 10 days Synetic has given us a gift of joy and ideas. Synetic deserves high praise for conceiving the project and working with the artists to create these 30 worlds. The artists deserve kudos for engaging in such delightful play and helping to ease the time of our pandemic. Thank you.
Running Time: Between three and 18 minutes.
“The Decameron” streams July 10 through July 31, 2020, on a pay-what-you-can basis. For the first 10 days, three shows will be released each day. For more information, please click here.