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2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please’ by The Greenfield Collective at the Asian Arts Initiative

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Both laugh-out-loud funny and intensely affecting, The Greenfield Collective makes its powerful mark on the Fringe with Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please, an original work devised by Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver, who star as a pair of excitable, unconventional, and inseparable twins with a passion for British movie star Tilda Swinton. Directed with wit and sensitivity by Maura Krause, the performance employs live movement and dialogue, along with pre-recorded video segments featuring Krista Apple and Doug Hara as their detached workaholic adoptive parents, and clips from the works of the idol they love, imitate, and envision as their real mom.

Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver. Photo by Kate Raines/Plate 3 Photography.

Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver. Photo by Kate Raines/Plate 3 Photography.

The actors embrace a convincing childlike exuberance in their characters’ imaginative games, playful fantasies, and unbridled emotional expression (both oral and physical – with the movement-based segments here clearly capturing the animated pre-lingual methods of communication on which the not-yet-verbally-eloquent children rely). They are also sincerely moving in their empathetic portrayal of the deep loving bond the siblings share, their outsider feelings of alienation and isolation, and the experiences they face as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood and their distinctive personalities emerge. There are astute references to metaphorical stories and figures from Greek mythology (the twins are named Artemis and Apollo) and incisive observations based in behavioral psychology about familial dysfunction, celebrity obsession, and juvenile fixation, with an appropriate shift in tone from the light-hearted scenes of childhood to the serious message of the conclusion.

Sara Outing’s clean white set, props, and costumes are inspired by Swinton’s famed role as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia, and the actors’ short-cut platinum-bleached hairstyles mirror the androgynous beauty of her real-life look. Sound and projections by Lucas Fendlay and lighting by Michael Lambui distinguish between the show’s sequences of day-time make-believe, night-time dreams, and everyday reality, and effectively suggest the interwoven states of the human psyche.

Leave it to The Greenfield Collective to be highly intelligent and profoundly touching, while also being extremely entertaining. Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please is all that.

Promotional image with Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver. Photo by Hannah Van Sciver.

Promotional image with Nicholas Scheppard and Hannah Van Sciver. Photo by Hannah Van Sciver.

Running Time: Approximately 65 minutes, without intermission.

Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please plays through Sunday, September 17, 2017, at The Greenfield Collective, performing at the Asian Arts Initiative, Studio C – 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the Fringe box office at (215) 413-9006, or purchase them online.

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