Entertainment » Theatre

still, now

Friday May 11, 2018
Kiki Samko and Lizette M. Morris in the world premiere of Katie Bender's 'still, now'
Kiki Samko and Lizette M. Morris in the world premiere of Katie Bender's 'still, now'  (Source:Andrew Wang)

The actors don't move like the professional dancers they portray, and for that matter some of the acting is a bit wooden. None of that matters: Heart & Dagger's world premiere production of Katie Bender's new play "still, now" is a haunting experience that explores the role of art in questions of life and death, the space between individuals even in the most loving of relationships, and the fundamental duality - frustrating, and yet giving rise to the ultimate, and original, pas de deux - of each person's inescapably interconnected mind and body.

Kiki Samko stars as Annie, a dancer who, following the horrors of 9/11, travels abroad to study the Japanese dance form Butoh. There's a deep resonance there, as we find out if we're listening closely: Butoh was created as a response to, among other things, the bombing of Hiroshima. For Annie, it's more than apt that she would be seeking a deeper level of artistic understanding by learning the form, despite its fundamentally different cultural roots.


Roxanne Y. Morse and Kiki Samko in 'still, now'  (Source:Andrew Wang)

Annie's lessons - which are delivered with the humor of a Zen master by famed practitioner Ishikawa (Roxanne Y. Morse) - unfold in flashbacks that are told in direct parallel to her current journey, a health crisis involving overworked nurses (Jamie Semel) and an oncologist, Dr. Beltram (Lauren Foster), whose clarity, strength, and unsentimental brand of compassion are, in their way, every bit as wise as anything a Zen (or Butoh) master might have to offer.

Closer to home is Ben (Colin McIntire), Annie's boyfriend and fellow dancer. Ben becomes the sole member of Annie's support network as she withdraws from the rest of the world (embodied by talkative, good-intentioned and yet annoying friend Kaitlyn, played by Lisette M. Morris). Another set of flashbacks to happier times with Ben show the couple's comfortable sexuality and good humored habit of interaction, but also the unresolved sources of bitterness between them - bitterness that might not be completely erased by the time Annie's ravaged body and ever-questing mind part ways. That process is illustrated, to an extent, by the appearance of Annie Too (Molly Kimmrling), who seems an expression first of Annie's playful inner child and then of her regression to a childlike dependence when it comes to having her physical needs met.

This is, in fact, a play chock-full of dualities, parallels, and reflections, many of which are illustrated through director Amy Meyer's inventive direction. Deeply felt, existentially gripping, and yet curiously light and optimistic, the play benefits from well-selected music and Sophia Giordano's lighting scheme. In the sum of its parts, "still, now" is a resonant poem (in movement, in speech, and in dramaturgy) about the things we hold onto when we're losing everything.


"still, now" continues through May 13 at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets and more information at https://www.bostontheatrescene.com/season/still-now/


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