2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Carried Away’ at Brian Sanders’ JUNK

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Boldly erotic, seductively exuberant, and profoundly intimate, Carried Away, this year’s world-premiere Fringe piece by Brian Sanders’ JUNK, brings all the physicality, psychology, and emotional intensity inherent in the title, and in the company’s spectacular signature style. Advertised as “conceived and concocted by Brian Sanders,” the world-class choreographer’s semi-autobiographical reflection revisits in dance, with a background of contemporary music and art, the encounters, excitement, and thoughts of a libertine youth spent in the hedonistic decades of the late 20th century, and living life with HIV over the past 30 years, with unabashed openness, creative daring, and breathtaking beauty.

Brian Sanders’ JUNK: (left to right) Julia Higdon, William Robinson, Matthew Emig, Theodore Fatscher, Tommy Schimmel, and Kelly Trevlyn. Photo by Ted Lieverman.
Brian Sanders’ JUNK: (left to right) Julia Higdon, William Robinson, Matthew Emig, Theodore Fatscher, Tommy Schimmel, and Kelly Trevlyn. Photo by Ted Lieverman.

Ever-astonishing JUNK stars Theodore Fatscher, Tommy Schimmel, William Robinson, Kelly Trevlyn, and Julia Higdon are joined by impressive newcomer Matthew Emig as they perform an enticing and demanding series of dance-theater vignettes that evoke the excesses of the club scene in the disco and punk eras, filled with rampant sex and drugs, and with joyous love and devastating loss, to which Sanders pays tribute.

From a steamy chair dance by Schimmel, Robinson, and Fatscher, to Schimmel’s tantalizing encounter with a punching bag, to the entire troupe’s exhilarating group hustle and bodysurfing, to their heartrending scene of the deterioration and death of a lover, the extraordinary company displays, in suggestively scanty costumes, the amazing equilibrium, strength, and agility of their perfectly sculpted bodies and rippling muscles, their impeccably controlled movements, and Sanders’ peerless choreographic vision.

Matthew Emig (above) and Tommy Schimmel. Photo by Ted Lieverman.
Matthew Emig (above) and Tommy Schimmel. Photo by Ted Lieverman.

To set the mood, Pedro Silva’s scenic design, with acrobatic apparatus by John Howell IV and Sanders, effectively transforms JUNK’s performance space from its usual ecclesiastical heights to the earthy look and feel of an underground club and bedroom—and then surprises us (no spoiler here!). Low light, spotlights, and strobe lights accentuate Sanders’ reminiscences of unbridled indulgences in a “land of fantasy” and help the audience to be Carried Away by his affecting theme and rousing dancers.

Running Time: 50 minutes, without intermission.

Photo by Steve Belkowitz.
Photo by Steve Belkowitz.

Carried Away plays through Saturday, September 24, 2016, performing at JUNK – 2040 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call (215) 413-1318, or purchase them online.

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BEST OF THE 2016 PHILADELPHIA FRINGE!