There are countless plays (and movies, songs, paintings, stories….) about people falling in love with other people. But what about loving yourself? If you can’t love yourself, are you even capable of loving someone else? And just how can we defeat that awful critical voice that tells us we’re worthless, ugly and alone? These are the deep questions posed by relEASE’s excellent devised piece, Self, a movement-based exploration of what it means to value the person who stares back at you in the mirror.
Pasquale Guiducci and Tori Bertocci, both well steeped in the genius of their progenitor, Synetic Theater, are brilliant physical performers who do a superb job of telling their story through motion. Together with an unique sound design by Jessica Thorne and Koki Lortkipanidze, and a dramatic lighting design by Brittany Dilberto, Self is a multisensory feast.
The show alternates between two realities: the first is staged as a playdate between two young children, Max and Carla, who are innocently un-self conscious. But when they put on Max’s “invisibility masks, they become adults weighed down by emotional baggage and self-loathing. Body image, substance abuse, harsh criticism and sexual conformity are all examined under relEASE’s lens. What we see is that although are many ways that people dislike themselves, it is all unnecessary. If we can forget the social norms and the unrealistic media standards, we can return to that happy ignorance of childhood.