August 13, 2012
In the dark, actors hoist oversized cardboard portraits and images down the Gerald W. Lynch Theater aisles and onto the stage accompanied by a disembodied male voice relaying a story about the end of a war, a woman, a beautiful Greek boy and a continuing life saga. Deep shadows are penetrated by a cool, blue moon light designed by Damir Ismagilov that contributed to the show’s dreamy quality. White super-titles roll up the back wall, translating the spoken French and Russian text.
Dressed in a neat dark suit, Mikhail Baryshnikov removes a hat revealing spiked gray hair when he enters an asymmetrical, “Alice in Wonderland” restaurant. A waitress in a visually skewed room carries out a tilted white table and chair. An absurdist play, the text sets up a rhythm compounded by the distinct measured walks and choreographed costume removals and additions.
Baryshnikov flirts with the waitress, Olga (Anna Sinyakina) in the course of an abstract courtship dance choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Both are missing spouses in action, both are lonely; both are Russian and well, not bad looking. Clever sets and props, including a robotic mouse that squeaks and runs helter-skelter, form scraps of stories that are dropped into a jagged puzzle made up of words, images and movement.
Standing on the side, a large woman warbles Carmen's famous Habanera when the love story begins to steam up. Baryshnikov shoots out a leg, pulls up his back into a hyper-extended arch feigning a toreador and snapping off a few clicks of the heels.
When thy go for a ride, a cardboard car arrives and rolls around the rotating set by Maria Tregubova . In another amusing moment during the restaurant scene, the set revolves revealing the wait-staff eavesdropping on the lovers like mice huddled inside the walls.
At the end, in a lovely romantic scene, a Chaplin film Anna Sinyakina flashes and in a surprise stroke by director Dmitry Krymov, arrives lifted up by wires. She walks weightlessly across Baryshnikov’s up stretched palms and then hangs upside down over his head.
“In Paris” is adapted from a short story by Ivan Bunin, and is performed as part of the Lincoln Center Festival 2012.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis