Be By Mayumana, A CurtainUp review, CurtainUp

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A CurtainUp Review
Be By Mayumana

A scene from Be by Mayumana
A scene from Be by Mayumana
In this era when "the unique theatrical experience" is becoming the norm, there isn't much point in wondering what on earth is going on within the Union Square Theatre. What is going on is a demonstration of a very specific but also essentially eccentric entertainment.

The New York multinational company is one of two or more companies that have performed more than 5,000 shows in more than 30 countries across the globe. It consists of ten energetic, athletic, muscular, and shapely men and women from Israel, Madrid, Switzerland, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Mexico, and Ivory Coast who are kept quite busy vaulting, jumping, climbing and running about exalting in sound and movement presumably attributed to rhythm and dance. If they are somewhat limited by a choreographic vocabulary that eventually wears a little thin, they have the added benefit and adornment of blinking light bulbs and luminous objects attached to their bodies and costumes.

Mostly, however, the five men and five women are in their element while banging away in concerted fashion on drums, cans, crates and boxes of various shapes and sizes. This might be appreciated as channeling between a breakthrough and a breakdown of the senses. Be, however, pales in the presence of Stomp, another percussion and rhythm-propelled show. The troupe is expending a lot of energy doing what the show's creators, Eylon Nuphar and Boaz Berman, envisioned and created in Tel Aviv in 1996 as a rhythm dance performance. They hit, smack and slap their various body parts in ensemble-executed posturing. Although we hear the sounds, the men amusingly perform mimed games with invisible balls. The women let off steam by vigorously and rhythmically kicking the walls with their boots. Black lighting effects enhance an ensemble number in which luminous red balls are tossed about for a bit too long. A very fishy underseas number in which the troupe claps illuminated flippers and fins lights up the dark and dreary two level set designed by Nizan Refaeli and lighted by Eyal Tavori and Roy Milo.

Some of the tedium of this highly energized entertainment is relieved by the women who in turn, and with more gratifying gyrations than their male counterparts, offer a belly dance (shades of Little Egypt), a flamenco dance and some Polynesian hip swinging and swaying. The program offers no clue as to who does what.

At one point, thin ropes that are attached to clanging objects capable of different tones are lowered from the rafters. This is for the obligatory audience participation number. At the performance I saw, no one quite got the knack or the beat as easily as the participants in the much more fun and Afro-centric Drumstruck.

Be's best moment occurs during the finale when the company lines up to play acoustic guitars and does some military drills (with the guitars) and formations from the Busby Berkeley school of marching. A bit of disco dazzle and some brightly colored tubes are a welcome visual moment to an otherwise very dull pallette.

The women are costumed by designer Neta Haker to look like warrior princesses from an early Arnold Schwarzenegger film. The men's costumes also look like they were purchased at a post-apocalyptic closeout. While no one in the company seems to be guilty of hitting their head against the wall, they do get their heads bopped with synchronized regularity. I didn't look around to see what audience members sitting near the walls might have been inclined to do the same.

Be By Mayumana
Created and Directed by Eylon Nuphar and Boaz Berman

Presented by Marc Routh, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Roy Ofer for Mayumana Ltd., Pamela Cooper and Annette Niemtzow.
Cast: Sharon Ben Naim, Alba Bonal Garcia, Eva Boucherite Martin, Vicente De Andres, Silvia Garcias De Ves, Michael Feigenbaum, Ido Kagan, Yael Mahler, Taly Minkov, Reut Rotem, Ido Stadler, Aka Jean Claude Thiemele, Hila Yaffe
Creative Team: Ido Kagan, Mathew Jessner, David Ottone
Scenic Designer: Nizan Refaeli
Costume Designer: Neta Haker
Lighting Designers: Eyal Tavari, Roy Milo
Sound Designer: Amir Schorr
Running Time: 90 minutes no intermission
Union Square Theatre, 100 East 17th St. 212/ 505-0700
From 2/23/07 opening 3/13/07
Tuesday through Friday evenings at 8 PM; Saturday evenings at 7 PM and 10 PM; and Sundays at 3 PM and 7 PM
Tickets: $20 - $60
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance March 11, 2007
broadway musicals: the 101 greatest shows of all time
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.

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