Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Schooling of Bento Bonchev by Maxsym Kurochkin, Breaking String Theatre Company at the Off Center, March 9 - 31

The Schooling of Bento Bonchev Breaking String Theatre Austin TX

A style begins to manifest itself in Graham Schmidt's staging of contemporary Russian drama, distinct from his graceful voyages through Chekhov. As in last year's Flying by Olga Mukhina, The Schooling of Bento Bonchev by Maxsym Kurochkin features an ensemble of attractive young persons. Schmidt and choreographer/fightmaster Sergio Alvarado move them smartly about Ia Enstera's starkly functional set at a lively, balletic pace.

Bento Bonchev Breaking String Theatre AUstin TXProps are minimal and suggestive -- for example, some bicycles are suggested solely by front wheels, cast members tote plastic chairs on stage and clap them down in unison on the stark white stage to establish a classroom. There's a circus-like flourish in the hand offs of props and the changes of scenes.

Beyond the action at deep center stage the playing surface curves smoothly upward to establish a topography used alternately as a rear wall and as a surface for projected images.

Design by Enster, the near kaleidoscopic movement and Steven Shirey's impressive lighting combine to make the piece a visual feast.

Kurochkin's piece is a satire, one that audaciously mocks the enigma of physical love and human attraction. He places his story in some future period when humankind has transcended the urge of hormones and the messy mechanics of procreation. The curious social structures of love in our antique times no longer serve for anything but academic inquiry.

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