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Bryant Lake Bowl
June 23, 2013
Chris Yon’s The Very Unlikeliness (I'm Going to KILL You!) [again&again version] begins with Yon and Taryn Griggs swiveling in tight little pivots, arms slashing and swiping. They could be trying to conduct a bunch of unruly musicians who have them surrounded, or maybe they’re just setting the stage for the highly orchestrated tumult that follows.
The two present themselves as life and artistic partners speaking the coded language of couples with a history. For 45 minutes, Yon and Griggs turn the tiny black box of the Bryant Lake Bowl theater into a kinetic Joseph Cornell box in which they construct an entire world from precisely splintered images, constantly realigned. Simultaneously abstract and intimate, brusque and droll, The Very Unlikeliness traffics in complexity. There’s a deadpan slapstick in the way the two calibrate the space between them. Arguments, sometimes violent, are sliced up and reassembled like a deconstructed French Apache dance. Gestures turn on a dime, as when Yon grabs at Griggs’ breasts as she backs away, then uses the same kneading-hand motion to suggest a kind of hocus-pocus (is he trying to mesmerize her?) or the gentle delineation of a cloud.
Yon’s score is an appropriately patchy mix, ranging from ghostly big bands to vintage pop and much unidentifiable noise. Dressed in severe black with white piping by Sara Smith, Griggs and Yon look ready for the blunt geometrics of a Bauhaus dance by Oskar Schlemmer. In one sequence, they seem trapped in a tedious step-tap pattern while their upper bodies lurch and their feet occasionally strike out in angry tendus. The rhythmic tenacity and repetition reference both endless rehearsals and the myriad adjustments and frustrations imbedded in long-term relationships.
Yon’s laid back physical comedy complements Griggs’ ability to shift emotional registers, rather like Marcel Marceau’s famous solo in which he wipes his face clean of one expression to instantly replace it with another. (Though Griggs' masks are full-body oscillations between aggression and affection, innocence and experience.) Whether she’s delivering an air punch or grinding her hips as Yon shields her from prying eyes, Griggs moves through Yon’s lexicon of non-sequitors with the kinetic equivalent of perfect pitch.
Pictured at top: Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs in The Very Unlikeliness (I'm Going to KILL You!) [again&againversion]. Photo by Chris Cameron, Courtesy Yon.