Witnesses to a Century

Double Edge Theatre may call their Ashfield farmstead home, but they are a world-class, and world-traveling, company. Their latest production—that is, not counting their annual farm-spanning summer spectacle—was premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage last March and went on to perform in Russia. The show makes its first, and perhaps last, New England stop this weekend, not in the theater’s home territory but in nearby Hartford.

The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) is a kaleidoscopic tour of the century’s high and low points—the company calls it “a work of memory, memorial, and celebration”—from World War I to Vietnam, silent movies to space odysseys, disco to AIDS. Rooted in Double Edge’s distinctive movement-theater style, the piece is framed as a circus and inspired by Marc Chagall’s dreamlike images, including his trademark flying people and animals.

There’s no spoken dialogue, but plenty of sound, from music composed by guest artist Alexander Bakshi and songs from diverse cultures, to archival radio and TV clips and sound effects delivered both vocally and with homemade percussion. The 10-member ensemble, accompanied by a four-piece band, is airborne as often as not, swinging from trapeze and silk. Indeed, as one D.C reviewer put it, “the sheer air traffic control that has to take place with actors constantly changing clothes or jumping on swinging things or dancing is admirable.”

Oct. 3-5, Austin Arts Center, Trinity College, Hartford. Admission free but tickets required. Reservations at (860)297-2199 or trincoll.edu/Arts/Pages/AustinArtsCenter.aspx.

Author: Chris Rohmann

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