Monday, September 20, 2010

Closure, Karamu House

(Shambrion Treadwell)

A single line from this production sums up the trauma of losing one’s home to the ravenous forces of our financial meltdown: “Foreclosure papers shredded, left on the lawn.” You can feel the frustration and anger that throbs in those few words.

That is just one of many telling thoughts in Closure by Mary Weems, now at Karamu House. This collection of poems—performed alongside and weaved into snatches of music, dance, singing and yodeling (!)—is an intriguing production. Most of the short poems are written in the voices of a variety of inanimate objects, the things that people leave behind when forced to abandon their homes.

This is a challenging format to sustain, since there are no characters to follow and no way to build tension. But under the direction of Terrence Spivey, aided by fluid choreography by Dianne McIntyre and evocative photographs by R.A. Washington, the 80-minute performance (with an essentially unnecessary intermission) manages to sustain interest for much of the time.

Plenty of objects have thoughts they want to share, including a drawer, a hairbrush, a light bulb, a hallway, and many more. Since the poems are fairly brief, these snapshot observations go down easily. On the flip side, the bite-sized bits (there are 27 of them) begin to get repetitive and you start to long for some interaction with the real people who were affected.

The six-person ensemble includes Rodney Freeman, Cameron Dashiell, Amanda Lanier, Saidah Mitchell, Shambrion Treadwell and Kyle Carthens. Each has featured moments and they all perform seamlessly as a group, lending the evening a sense of unity the material itself doesn’t supply.

Ultimately, the clever premise devours itself, since objects can’t grow, change or rage against these sad situations. And that drains a lot of passion from the proceedings. Still, the production is often enthralling, lovely to look at, and even quite amusing. And that ain’t half bad.


Through October 10 at Karamu House,

2355 East 89th Street, 216-795-7077

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