EVER THUS choreographed and directed by Claudia Moore (MOonhORsE Dance Theatre). At Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill). To October 13. $20-$25. 416-866-8666. See Continuing, page 86. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Shakespeare's plays and characters are so familiar that they easily adapt to other art forms. Claudia Moore's Ever Thus uses movement to capture scenes or moments from Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and other works in the Bard's canon. While the dance sequences succeed, the bits of text - delivered mostly by performers who aren't used to speaking onstage - are clunky and vague.
The show, performed in rep with Soulpepper's production of Lear, gets off to a bad start with a pointless backstage peek at warm-up exercises, dressing room rivalries and so on. This same theme is taken up a few scenes later when the performers deliver autobiographical monologues simultaneously.
These moments lack shape and scream for a stronger director than Moore, who also doubles as choreographer and ensemble performer. Movement, not text, is her forte, and her two scenes from Macbeth come viscerally to life. Her brief duet as Lady M opposite Miko Sobreira's haunted king is rife with struggle, anger and eroticism. Her later scene of madness is a marvel of physical economy, her willowy arms expressing what words can't.
Elsewhere, Sobreira is better at wielding a sword than he is at speaking Hamlet's lines - in English or (inexplicably) in Spanish - while Heidi Strauss delivers a riveting solo, suggesting extreme inner pain, although I'm not sure what character she's channelling.
The appearance of William Webster, who stars on the same stage as Lear, seems odd. He's not a trained dancer, but he performs gamely. Best is his scene where he delivers a Lear monologue, but not in the usual way. The surprising scene captures the text's gravitas, but gooses it.