Thursday, November 12, 2009

Idiot Savant

Resist the urge to analyze. Don't read personal information into the performance. Just let the show happen. With every Richard Foreman show I've seen, which is all of them in NYC since I've Got The Shakes, these are the things a keep telling myself. Idiot Savant is no different, or is it? For one thing, Idiot Savant is being performed at The Public Theater as opposed to his own, much smaller space at St. Mark's Church. For another thing, it stars Willem Defoe. It also has an actual lighting designer credited (other than Foreman himself) and the lighting is striking. And probably most importantly, it has been reported that Idiot Savant will be Richard Foreman's final stage production. So I admit that in the back of my mind, I was viewing Savant as a swan song of sorts. Is the giant duck Foreman himself saying "Goodbye"?

And yet there are an awful lot of familiar Foremanisms here too: the slapstick crashing into walls, the strings dividing audience and performers, the actors use of head mics, Foreman's own distorted voice-overs, the strange props. Idiot Savant is also closer to his shows of a few years ago, before he started to use video projections of pieces filmed is other countries - ironically enough he started using these video segments at the time of his last retirement musings. What Idiot Savant has that his most recent shows didn't was a leading performer/character and this is a welcome return.

So where does that leave us? I've always found looking at what is different from year-to-year in Foreman's shows far more telling and interesting than looking at the similarities. I loved the beginning of Idiot Savant, with Foreman listing all of the props that would be used during the course of the performance. I loved Elina Lowensohn's entrance (I won't spoil it). Was this Foreman's last theater piece? I'd hate to think so, but maybe. And lastly, is it OK to be asking questions during a Foreman show - maybe - but don't settle on any firm answers - and that's OK, too.

just extended and will run through December 20th.

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