Writer: Jason Napoli Brooks & Rob Roth
Director: Rob Roth
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Rob Roth’s newest piece, SOUNDSTAGE at HERE Arts Center, is a complex fifty-five minutes. Utilizing live action, film, and live camera projection, the piece explores ritual, loneliness, loss, and chemical dependency. A camera on a track manipulated by black clad figures moving in the Butoh style reinforces focal points, brings Roth in parallel with film clips featuring the talented Rebecca Hall, and gives the sense of a haunted life and mind.
The technical composition of SOUNDSTAGE is flawless. Every detail is curated to maximum effect, and Roth gives a seamless performance. He brings immediacy and life to interactions with Hall’s pre-recorded footage, bringing a vibrancy to each moment, even the slow burns. The imagery is simultaneously dangerous and familiar, and Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s lights saturate each moment with meaning. The entire piece feels like a kind of dance under Vangeline’s choreography.
At times, SOUNDSTAGE veers into esoteric territory, and some beats teeter between vulnerable and self-indulgent. There’s a great deal to take in and it can be challenging to know where one’s attention ought to fall at a given moment. This can be quite compelling, but there is an adjustment/learning curve at the beginning as audience member finds their own rhythm. However, once one lets go and allows themselves to sink into the haunting, out-of-time world created by Roth, SOUNDSTAGE is a singular experience for audiences that enjoy something off the beaten path… or camera track.
Runs until 29 September 2018 | Image: Paula Court