Overview: ‘A Music of Songs’ Makes a Sacrament of Remembrance

Overview: ‘A Music of Songs’ Makes a Sacrament of Remembrance

A couple of sheets of coloured tissue paper, encumbered by a trinket to maintain them from fluttering off. That is what viewers members discover on their seats upon arrival at “A Music of Songs,” Agnes Borinsky’s new theater piece impressed by the biblical Music of Songs, and it’s one thing of a puzzle. What to do with them?

The reply comes on the high of the present, when Borinsky — certainly one of a forged of three on this manufacturing, staged in a former Roman Catholic church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — mimes directions to us for a fast craft undertaking. Following alongside, we kind our sheaves into easy choices for the altar in entrance of us. Then row by row, we stroll up and place them there, in a shrine to the lifeless.

It feels awkward and unsure, stumbling by way of these prescribed motions of lamentation. However grief for a misplaced beloved seems to be the unhealed wound on the aching core of “A Music of Songs.” We’re, it seems, merely re-enacting it.

Directed by Machel Ross and introduced by the Bushwick Starr and the playwright Jeremy O. Harris, this play-as-ritual is supposed as a sort of remix of the Music of Songs, which my Oxford World’s Classics version of the King James Bible calls “notoriously, the one piece of erotic literature within the Bible.” However its carnality is drenched in pleasure, and within the consolation of lavished affection. Its verses enjoy love and cherishing.

So does “A Music of Songs,” a minimum of at first. Although it’s too stylized to be attractive, its lovers, Nadine (Borinsky) and Sarah (Sekai Abeni), fall for one another in an all-consuming method, besotted to the purpose of unreason.

“I took a pair of your gymnasium shorts so I might odor them at work,” Sarah confesses, hiding her face. “That is fully terrifying.”

Their fragmented story, and the lack of their transformative love, represent the primary narrative of “A Music of Songs.” Carried out briefly scenes of monologue and dialogue, with occasional voice-overs and snatches of music, it makes a sacrament of remembrance. The set (by Frank Oliva, who additionally designed the lushly atmospheric lighting) takes full benefit of the structure of a once-sacred house, and the actors’ flowing robes trace at non secular garb. (Ross additionally designed the costumes.)

In Sarah’s regular love for her solely little one, and Nadine’s considerable love for her many associates, Borinsky’s script considers extra than simply romantic attachment. Nadine’s godmother, Trudy (Ching Valdes-Aran), a revolutionary who loves with abandon, represents a fourth and extra diffuse sort of ardour: for society as an entire.

Onstage at El Puente’s Williamsburg Management Heart, Trudy’s is essentially the most tentative thread of a manufacturing that doesn’t totally cohere. Patches of it may be laborious to comply with, and the acoustics typically swallow strains earlier than they will land. But “A Music of Songs” possesses a shocking ritual energy.

Because the play takes a disquieting flip into the underworld of Greek mythology, it stealthily leads every individual within the viewers towards a meditative consideration of their very own mourning for these they’ve misplaced, to loss of life or in any other case.

The night’s first participatory second, once we positioned our choices on the altar, was making ready us for this: a second interlude once we are all requested to hitch in — wordlessly, every including a token of affection and sorrow to the set. (I’m not telling you what.) Delicately achieved, it’s way more private this time, and due to that, deeply affecting.

“A Music of Songs” is a communal ceremony concerning the void left by the absence of individuals we love, and the universality of the ache that brings. Extra consolingly, it’s additionally concerning the magnificence that may develop due to love, even when that love involves grief.

A Music of Songs
By way of March 27 at El Puente’s Williamsburg Management Heart, Brooklyn; thebushwickstarr.org. Operating time: 1 hour quarter-hour.

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