A steel hula hoop spins. When if falls it becomes a container. Then the container’s soft outer lining forms, depending on one’s point of view, a bed, boat or coffin. Deliberate randomness forms the strong visual story told by Chris Green’s American Weather at HERE’s Dorothy B.Williams Theatre.
Thanks to Green and his collaborator’s masterful multidisciplinary combination of puppetry, video, song, verse and live action, American Weather’s barometer reads division. This self-contained stage storm is played out across a picket fence with sharp edges. Katie Melby is the slow-moving soul in front of the fence/screen and a puppet costumed as a fencer in back of it.
The two may…or may not…be connected. It doesn’t matter because each conveys the same ideas. Both confront outside forces. Melby’s is from an Alexa fashioned out of a Walkman. Her instructions regard a moth and its flame, represented by a wind-up box connected to a light bulb with a piece of white paper dangling in front of it. The graceful puppet never finds firm footing. Among its tests is being stuck with one, then many, pins leaving markings on his or her body resembling those of the martyred Saint Sebastian.
They also share resiliency. In spite of isolation they go forward. What injures them never defeats them. From their different perspectives they gaze at endless rows of transmission towers that mark destinies of dread, routine or enjoyment.
How this is accomplished is rigorous. In applying theatrical basics with care and intelligence, American Weather is provocative.
Running time: 70 minutes without intermission