Multimedia can be tricky to pull off in the theater, but HERE Arts Center does it masterfully, especially in Christina Campanella's new production Red Fly/Blue Bottle. Eye candy, fantastically creepy music, and an expert dash of steampunk fill the stage in this deliciously haunting concert exploring what happens in the dusty parlors and back rooms of empty houses, long after the minutes have ticked away your life, stealing everyone and everything that matters. A young woman sifts through the remnants of the person she loves, an old woman traps time in mason jars, and a lost man disappears into a secret war.
Red Fly/Blue Bottle's six-member cast includes performance artist Jesse Hawley, who plays the young woman, Clarissa, with fragile, ghostly stoicism; singer/writer Chris Lee, whose distinctive voice portrays a man resigned to his own helplessness; and the actor Black-Eyed Susan as 'the old lady' who peers straight into your soul from her niche in the back corner of the stage.
Campanella not only composed the complex, layered music, but she also performs in the show, lending her ethereal voice and instrumental prowess to the production, coaxing lovely, spooky sounds out of everything from a toy piano to an antique accordion. Multi-instrumentalist Sammy Baker (who plays drums, upright bass, acoustic guitar, banjolele, and stylophone) and cellist Erich Schoen-Rene round out the ensemble.
They're a ridiculously talented group, but they also have great material to work with--Campanella's music against Matt Verta-Ray's 'found sound' sculptures, with Stephanie Fleischmann's eerie, magically spun words and Peter Norrman and Mirit Tal's video projectons. The stage is a beautiful jumble of old radios, luggage, clocks, and other curiosities.
Red Fly/Blue Bottle is three years in the making, coming out of the HERE Artist Residency Program. It's playing at HERE in New York through May 2, and tickets are only $20. Go see it!
Note: If you're not in New York, you can check out a video clip of the show here , but if you're planning on going to see it, skip the video because it doesn't do the real thing justice.
Photo Credit: Ryan Jensen