Monday, February 28, 2022

I saw the play Barococo this weekend

I went to see Barococo this weekend. It is from an odd little theater group called Happenstance Theater. It was playing at 59 East 59th theaters, which I do love. I used to review there all the time, before Covid. I get the impression that they used Covid to change PR teams. So I paid to see this, which is fine. I think I am about done with reviewing theater anyway. Due to the uncertainty of it all.


This is the show description from the theatre website's marketing blurb. My feedback follows:

BAROCOCO dives into the late Baroque and flaunts 18th century finery, wigs, panniers, gestural styling, elaborate ornamentation and the excesses of Rococo in this unique physical comedy. A charming and charismatic six-person ensemble exposes an indulgent aristocratic lifestyle precariously perched on the edge of its extinction. One percent pomposity is punctured in this delightful comedy of manners.

The show takes place on a bare stage. There is only a table as a prop and a musician on the far left who plays as fantastic variety of Baroque instruments including a harpsichord, a Cello and some obsolete instrument than is (somehow) the love child of a harp and trombone.

Barococo opens with 5 royals entertaining themselves with small games within the same area on stage. Here the royals relax and amuse themselves by games of riddles, flattery, and very mild flirting. Their interaction swings between playful to despondent, and deferential to the Dauphine (the French Prince’s wife – soon to be Queen) and back again.

As the piece progresses, we see a rote repetition of the same movement, albeit with less enthusiasm. There is an undercurrent that all these games and interactions are forced.

Through their actions, we slowly understand that these Royals are held in this state - a lovely jail, until they are freed or sent to the guillotine. The second resolution looks to be more and more probable.

The uncurrent and moral of the story is that the 1%, whether now or back in the aristocracy of Europe, will ultimately have to pay the price for their capriciousness and indolence. It successfully displays this, but leaves the story that rings a bit false, as the 1% in the current world seems far from being reproached. 

It was fun, with moments of “mime” annoyance. See what I did there? There was a bit too much of mime in the show. Or, as they put it, “movement based humor”. I do not love mime. I was trapped in a box for hours, with no exit.

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