“We Began with a spark, an idea, a desire to express
And Explore a concept that fascinates us, something
that We Fulfill our search for a better humanity,
For a better Understanding of who we are”
– Gypsy Snider
I am a musician – a bagpiper to be specific – so when show began with the slamming of doors perfectly synchronized with the beat of the music, I knew I was in for a treat. If ears could smile, mine would have. The movements of the performers were beautifully choreographed to match the sounds and music that spilled out into the theatre. I was pleasantly surprised to discover my French was not as rusty as I thought it was, and as I honed my ear to lyrics, the song (and the scene with it) took on a totally new meaning. It’s incredible how emotions and fears trapped behind a curtain of time and miles of ocean are set free with a single song. And beyond music – Reversible brought in sounds like the ringing of the telephone and snippets of a host of languages that drew whimsical connections between the scenes despite the implied geographic separation.
Midway through Reversible, I began to notice how lighting and, just as importantly, shadow were utilized to fill the stage and direct the eye. I suppose I have my ever-observant Visual Media Arts friends to thank for coaching me watch for these kinds of stylistic choices. Colored lighting transformed the feel of the scenes, setting a range of moods, even transporting the audience out onto the stormy sea with crescendos of lightning. Shadows enhanced the visual splendor of the acrobatic moves of the rope and silk, as well as the spinning German wheel that cast two shadowy clones onto the adjacent walls. All these added depth to the stage and allowed for the eyes to skip between carefully choreographed symmetries.
Something that repeatedly amazed me was the intrepid poise that each one of the performers wielded; they faced even the most challenging and – to my eyes – most dangerous maneuvers without hesitation. As a performer, I know this kind of steely composure is tempered through hundreds of hours practicing routines, building trust with your fellow actors, and transforming those actions into second nature. However, as the show went on – and the movements chained together, woven with a complexity that was almost impossible to follow – it hit me that director Gypsy Snider had been right: each one of these young (and boy, was I surprised at how young they looked) performers was frighteningly talented. It’s the fact that they were in such disciplined control of their bodies that maintained this captivating spell over the audience, and allowed them to pull us into their stories. I think it is essential that each of performers took on the role of sharing the story of a member of their family. If the director had simply cast random performers into these roles, I know the spectacle would have lacked the sense of urgency and truth. These stories needed to be told, just as badly as the cast needed to share them. Reversible was a movement that sought to make real the lives and stories of a generation now past, and ambitiously sought to connect the audience and cast to something that is bigger than all of us. There is not a doubt in my mind that they succeeded.