BOTTOM LINE: Created with text, sound, and movement, the collaborative One Arm and a Leg is the best of downtown theatre.
Conceived and directed by Calla Videt, One Arm and a Leg is a devised, interdisciplinary performance based on a Japanese story by Yasunari Kawabata.
The original story One Arm and a Leg involves a woman leaving her arm for a man at a bar. The performance it has inspired is an episodic journey riffing on this idea, and exploring different ways people can give of themselves (literally represented by their right arm), and what we then do with an "arm" we have been given. Text, motion, and stage images intertwine as these characters try to connect, or reconnect.
Mary E. Stebbins's lighting for One Arm and a Leg is vivid, and practical lights are shrewdly worked into the props in ingenious ways. The soundscape of the play is a continual through line hanging the disparate "scenes" together. It's rich and varied, but there are a few weak moments when contemporary songs are incorporated that don't meld with the rest of this show. The costumes are clean and simple, and the staging is inconspicuously meticulous and inspired. But the piece de resistance of this performance is the mesmerizing choreography by brothers Jeffrey and Rick Kuperman.
One Arm and a Leg is laced with movement duets of shared space and body shaping. The Kupermans move with charm and magnetism, while the talented, near-twin blonde female dancers provide fluid grace and beauty to their pas de deux.
It is clear that One Arm and a Leg was created collaboratively with every artist involved, because the entire show is a unified, vibrant, and exceptional work. This is one of the best performances to play downtown this summer.
(One Arm and a Leg played as part of the Dream Up Festival at the Theatre for a New City August 25-28 th , 2010 and continues its run September 1 – 4 at the HERE Art Center, 145 6 th Avenue. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the HERE box office after 4 PM on show days or by calling 212-352-3101.)