Aside from the ten-minute blackout that starts the second act, you’re not likely to find a more stimulating production than the world premiere of Rusted Heart Broadcast, now at Cleveland Public Theatre.
This work of devised theater, created by director Raymond Bobgan and his nine-person ensemble, engages both the eye and the ear as seemingly spontaneous movement combines with layered music and chants to weave a fairly hypnotic spell over the proceedings.
This is all in service to a storyline that is not nearly so easy to perceive. But in brief, a Clevelander named Kaysha is on a quest, analogized to a search for a secret pearl guarded by a monster.
Kaysha is headed to Hollywood, where she auditions to be a spokesperson for Softnet, a company that connects people to the Web without any hardware. But there is a deadly virus attached to that technology, and Kaysha must escape the monster corporation, evade succumbing to the virus and, you know, save humanity.
That story is glimpsed in the many spinning and tumbling folds of movement, dance and music that are wound into the warp and weft of this production. Utilizing a number of original musical creations by Bobgan and others, the production teases, surprises—and at time frustrates—as you try to follow the flow.
It makes for an involving experience that, if you open yourself to the possibilities, can be remarkably rewarding. These aren’t the usual rewards of a more conventional theater piece, but the unexpected gifts provided when your senses are tweaked in new and different ways.
The cast is led by the focused and determined Faye Hargate as Kaysha. She is surrounded by others who compose the ever-shifting yet admirably precise ensemble: Molly Andrews-Hinders, Dionne D. Atchinson, Carly Garinger, Sally Groth, Jeremy P. Lewis, Adam Seeholzer, Chris Seibert and Darius J. Stubbs.
Adding immeasurably to the visual richness of the show’s palette is the lighting design by Benjamin Gantose, continually carving out vivid playing areas on CPT’s Gordon Square stage that is set up like an amphitheater.
By maintaining a connection, however tenuous at times, to a storyline, RHB avoids the trap of self-involvement that often plagues devised works. And even though the theme of saving humanity is grandiose, this production earns its right to overstatement through a disciplined and relentlessly vigorous approach to the material.
Rusted Heart Broadcast
Through June 15 at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727