Performance on the Rocks

Westmont Fringe Festival

At Porter Theatre and surrounding locations, Westmont
College, Thursday, April 20.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

This year’s spring Fringe Festival at Westmont College presented
a selection of eclectic short theater and dance work in venues
including a rock, the backstage green room of the main theater, and
through the theater’s side window onto the outside lawn. The
festivities lasted three days, with rotating programs and shifting
times, allowing for a different experience upon each showing.

Erin Brehm as Sylvia Plath stole the evening show with her
composition “Sylvia’s Path.” The performance, in the green room
behind the stage, was limited to an audience of 20, making it
uncomfortably intimate. Her portrayal was chilling. She recited
poetry and journal musings, crumpled paper, made eye contact with
and touched audience members’ feet, and placed rubber stamps on
their hands. She continued her monologue with water running while
showering in a polka-dot dress, then spilled a bag of dirt and
screamed as she hurled a gold wedding band. “Hopeless, like
quicksand from the start,” were her fitting final words.

UCSB graduate student Judy Bauerlein performed a one-woman piece
perched on a rock in which she spouted, stream-of-consciousness
style, about the negative space surrounding objects. Bauerlein’s
pontifications were alternately funny and poignant. Dancers Leah
Benson, Megan Grieshaber, Megan Griffith, Maggie Iba, and Laura
Quirk performed original collaborative choreography and work by
faculty members Victoria Finlayson and Erlyne Whiteman. Finlayson’s
“Lament” is a response to NPR interviews with soldiers, and it
evoked melancholy with images of dancers balancing on a precipice.
The piece ended in darkness. Grieshaber’s “Attention,” also a
response to war, included a moving solo. Dancers in camouflage and
loose hair grooved a little too happily to music from Hotel

“Happy” was the order of the day for “Dulce” by Finlayson, which
featured rhythmic choreography, a Latin beat, and bright
sundresses. “Shadowplaying,” viewed through the theater windows,
was characterized by dancers’ striking silhouettes undulating to a
beautiful original composition by Westmont music student Greg
Kirchmaier. Leah Benson’s “Fix You” featured crisp lines and
lyrical unison work by the dancers. Other performers also presented
work throughout the weekend, in the festival setting of shifting
locations. The Fringe format was a success, providing an intimate
connection with the art.


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