Monday, August 4, 2008

Fringe review: Live Action Set, Minneapolis

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Too many artists or their organizations presume a mantle of uniqueness in asserting that their work boldly goes where none have gone before: pushing boundaries, exploring new worlds, and creating new vocabularies or tomes in whatever discipline they pursue. Would, for the integrity of their p.r., that it was true.

Wisely, the four principals of Live Action Set – Noah Bremer, Megan Odell, Galen Treuer, and Vanessa Voskuil – avoid the overblown claims of such claptrap. They understand that the embodiment of their creativity must be innovative to them and its presentation delivered with accomplished and engaging conviction. They "get" that their collective motivation produces an "intangible creative synergy" distinct f
rom their individual possibilities.

The results of their approach can be seen in Deviants, an engrossing, 70-minute offering in this year's Minnesota Fringe Festival. The show is a re-working of material presented at the Red Eye Theater in 2007.

Deviants is a work of intelligence by young adults, for adults of all ages, that easily could have become trite and facile. In a non-linear format, it examines constructions of the acceptable and the deviant, the desired and the repressed. Some of the forbidden fantasies-turned-obsessions, along with their real or imagined imagery, may challenge some viewers.

The genius of Deviants, if you will, may be found in its successful creation of an alternate reality and the ability of a very talented cast to transport an audience to its realms. The ensemble launches the journey using all of the raw, warehouse space of The Soap Factory, including trapdoors and pillars. While the pillars become an integral part of the set and scene, they pose an unacceptable barrier to sightlines.

The members of Live Action Set, with their varied backgrounds in theater and dance, have forged a cohesive, collective character that accents the strengths of each individual. Their future foraging across the artistic landscape will be welcome.

They are worthy successors to the ensemble of artists formerly known as Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis (and, formerly, Paris).
The work presented by the Set at the Soap Factory echoes the fascinating, early-1980s productions by Jeune Lune in the Seven Corners neighborhood of Minneapolis. Jeune Lune's founders shared an aesthetic background in their training at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq. Although the founders of the Set do not share a similar set of experiences, their bond is a shared sensibility and a commitment to ensemble-driven outcomes.

Jeune Lune collapsed in financial distress last month, nearly 30 years after its first Minneapolis performance. Interestingly, Robert Rosen, a co-founder of Jeune Lune, served as director and co-creator of Deviants (and, Rosen and Bremer both studied at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theater in California).

Whatever their longevity together, one can wish the artists of Live Action Set a happy and productive life of continued creativity.

Deviants continues at The Soap Factory, 518 2nd Street SE, Minneapolis. Aug. 5-10 @ 7pm; Aug. 8 & 9 @ 8:30pm; and Aug. 9 @ 5:30pm. Tickets: $12 + one-time purchase of Fringe Festival button for $3.

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