IMPRESSIONS: Gabrielle Revlock and Aleksandr Frolov's “Show No Show” at The Flea Theater
May 23, 2018
Choreography: Gabrielle Revlock and Aleksandr Frolov
Performance: Gabrielle Revlock and Aleksandr Frolov
Lighting Design: Jonathan Cottle // Music: Morris Albert, Sigur Ros
How often do you find yourself performing? Aren’t most meetings, whether they be a doctor’s appointment or even a long-term relationship, a performance of sorts where you fulfill a specific role? New York City- and Philadelphia-based Gabrielle Revlock and Russia-based Aleksandr Frolov premiere Show No Show at The Flea Theater. Their endearing collaboration investigates the “performance” of introductions by unveiling all the challenges and discomforts of getting to know someone.
Show No Show is a series of duets between Revlock and Frolov, or maybe it’s just one long duet that unravels into different scenarios within their evolving relationship. The pair met at Art Omi, an artists’ residence near Hudson, NY, and it is clear they have been performing this work together for several years. Show No Show is so genuine that elements of it must be rooted in reality. Although I don’t know the two artists personally, their performance indicates that they are portraying exaggerated versions of themselves and sometimes even making fun of themselves — Revlock is nervous and busy; Frolov is carefree and detached.
Colorful props — orange chairs, a yellow tablecloth, and green curtains — amplify the playful nature. There are many silly moments, like when Frolov scoops Revlock above his head. She squeals as he launches her terrifyingly close to the audience. In an amusing and self-referential skit, the pair depicts a couple who are role-playing a doctor/ patient scenario. Revlock sits on the exam table and teases a sheepish Frolov as he tries to perform a routine physical examination.
The theme of introductions gets twisted and contorted, provoking the thought: What happens when the person we’ve known our entire life suddenly shows a new side of himself? Frolov transforms into a wild animal, implying a primitive version of himself. Revlock uses a prop screen door to try and contain him as she nervously coaxes him with a treat.
At times, the characters’ roles seem to exaggerate gender stereotypes. Revlock embodies qualities associated with femininity. Her movements are quick and dainty, and her energy projects outward, as though she is desperate to please. Frolov is more inwardly focused and sometimes frustratingly dense, like in a maddening moment where Revlock, holding a megaphone, orders him to put his hands on the wall. He cavalierly ignores her.
This male/ female dynamic is occasionally magnified to the point of being almost disturbing. Frolov sensually runs his fingers up and down Revlock’s legs, as if admiring her physicality. He gently places his hand on the small of her back and begins to slap her, with increasing aggression. She casually eats a snack, like this treatment is something routine.
Gender roles are also reversed. Revlock holds Frolov in stalemate in an arm-wrestling competition for several long, tense moments as he struggles melodramatically before succumbing to defeat. In a gorgeous image, Frolov places her in a Christ on the Cross position against the closed window. He unrolls the blinds, so that the evening light illuminates her. He then kneels at her feet like he’s Mary Magdalene.
Frolov stumbles around with a blanket over his head, and Revlock follows him with the megaphone, teasingly repeating “I’m over here.” When she leaves the megaphone on the ground and exits the stage, it continues to echo her voice. He, confused, wanders out of the theater and into the courtyard where he continues to fumble around.
Show No Show ends in darkness, the megaphone repeating, “I’m over here.” The conclusion is both amusing and disorienting . . . Where is “here”? Who is “I”? If the piece begins with Revlock anxiously trying to introduce herself, it ends when she leaves a part of herself behind.
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