EyeSOAR is primarily a dance performance which incorporates video, audio interviews, music, and the spoken word to tell the story of the Shirlington neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. This performance conveys the story of Shirlington’s history, explores its current transition from industrial park to dog-friendly neighborhood, and gives a short nod to what that may mean for the businesses that no longer fit in with an increasingly hipster vibe.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work. There was simply too much going on with video, sound, costumes, movement, live music, and spoken lines, and these elements rarely came together in any cohesive way.
The piece is salvageable, but it needs a lot of work. The video was distracting and didn’t help the narrative. The costumes need to match the story but the bright sherbert colors didn’t make any sense against the industrial narrative. Lighting was well-used and the live guitar was effective (if underutilized), but many of the other sound elements were scattered and disjointed.
The company (Ian Edwards, Carly Johnson, Shonnita Johnson, Kelsey Rohr, Amy Scaringe, Brynna Shank, and Rebecca Weiss) has skilled, strong dancers, but most are not actors, and they should not be delivering lines. They would better serve the story by focusing more on their strength of dance, conveying the story through movement and facial work.
Artistic director and choreographer Jane Franklin was bold to take on so many art forms, but she may have been better served by expanding her team. She also did the video and sound so this may be a case of one person taking on too much. EyeSOAR fails to tie many disparate elements together into a compelling narrative. The audience genuinely couldn’t tell when the show had ended.
I applaud artists who aim to better their local community, but EyeSOAR needs more work before it can be the celebration it intends to be.
Running Time: 50 minutes with no intermission.