From the first moment you enter the space Gunnar Montana’s Wroughtland transports you into another world. The stage and seating area are lush with greenery, some beautiful, with delicate leaves and vines, while others twist and turn, ending in silvery spiky thorns.
Montana’s set design is phenomenal. To say they used the space creatively would be a massive understatement, every inch of the place is utilized in intriguing and sometimes shocking ways. Props and the stage and the performers meld into each other, so you are unsure what or who will emerge next.
The show is essentially a series of modern dance and movement vignettes with the over-arching theme of fairy tales. Using the familiar princesses, princes, and fantastical creatures we know from childhood to examine more adult themes.
The old tales are sometimes given a modern take, while others are woven in with religious symbolism. Particularly moving was the “Rapunzel” piece, with Stephi Lyneice and Shadou Mintrone, conjuring up images of the 3 Weavers. Their slow, haunting movements were beautiful and terrifying.
Gunnar Montana and Adrian Plascencia’s “Hansel and Gretel” was touching, intimate and complex, using dance and adagio to perfectly describe the balance of love and lust. Particularly impressive was Jessica Daley. I have no idea how she kept up the pace throughout the show, playing several parts (“Nightingale,” “The Black Bride,” “Tinkerbell,” as well as the ensemble pieces) dancing and also aerial work. The choreography of all the sections was stunning. The dancers movements and timing were meticulous, but they made it look effortless. Each move not only showcased the dancers’ skills, but also advanced the storyline.
Wroughtland was honestly, one of the most impressively orchestrated performances I have ever seen.
The show also incorporated burlesque elements as most performers lost their clothes at some point, all to great effect.
The show’s description in the Fringe Guide says it is a show, “where fairy tales take a wicked turn.” As I sat there in this amazingly transformed room, seeing these incredible performers, I felt the show was about much more then that. The show, for me, was about the beautiful, dangerous and ultimately ephemeral nature of love and attraction. Just like the show, love is an incredible effort for something that will be gone all too soon. The audience is left to wonder,”Is it all worth it?”
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Wroughtland plays through September 24, 2016 at the 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival performing at the Latvian Society – 531 N. 7th Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets call the box office at (215) 413 1318 , or purchase them online.
BEST OF THE 2016 PHILADELPHIA FRINGE.