Brooklyn-based performance maker Okwui Okpokwasili writes, performs and co-sound-designs the piece. It is an extraordinary performance. An intense eye for detail drives every theatrical moment. No movement, word or even gaze is choreographed without profound consideration. The result is breathtaking and unnerving throughout.
Okpokwasili begins the show in the central corner of the stage with her back to the audience. She embarks on an extended sweat-ridden, body-writhing dance routine, accompanied by blaring house music mixed with sounds of the streets in the Bronx. The scene shifts to perceived silence where Okpokwasili quakes and shakes her body for an impressively long period of time. She forcefully stares at different audience members for more time than is comfortable, as we clock her changing mood of fear, menace, and delight. The scene morphs again and uses the epistolary style of the Victorian Gothic novel to chart the changing relationship between Okpokwasili and her closest childhood friend.
The story of Bronx Gothic is abstracted, yet grounded in reality. Through Okpokwasili’s weaving, jolting narrative, the audience gleans information in dreamlike snippets. Although an otherworldly ambience is constructed, there are also laugh-out loud moments like when Okpokwasili reads from one of the childhood letters about the use of a ‘personal frisbee’ for masturbatory purposes.
In 2018 Okpokwasili was chosen as a MacArthur ‘Genius Award’ recipient. Each year this award is given to around 20 to 30 US citizens working in any field, who have shown 'extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.' Such talents are evident in Okpokwasili's blend of choreography, performance poetry, sound design and startling narrative content
Peter Born directs with elegant simplicity. He has visually designed the piece, as well as co-designed the sound with Okpokwasili. The lighting is graceful and measured, with slow graduations in the lighting using silhouette, spotlights, complete darkness and fully lit house lights, to highlight the changes of perceived space in this half-dreamlike, half-real world.
Using a smorgasbord of avant-garde techniques to both challenge and move its audience, Bronx Gothic is an electrifying theatrical feast for the eyes, ears and mind. Okpokwasili is a talent you simply cannot miss out on.
|What||Bronx Gothic, Young Vic review|
|Where||The Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 8LZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
01 Jun 19 – 29 Jun 19, 7:45 PM – 9:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £24|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|