The performance review was written by Guiri Guest writer: Meghan Modafferi. Meghan is from North Carolina, USA. She is currently living in Prague and working as an English teacher. In her free time, she’s a freelance writer who’s particularly interested in politics, performances, and personalities.
For inexperienced attendees of modern dance performances, Sebastian Belmar’s RGB may at first seem a bit dizzying. It opens with a man in tight, white underpants trying to escape from below a sheet of plastic in a candy wrapper imitation of birth. I watched his hands flail from below the clear plastic sheet, and wondered if this is just too niche-group for new patrons of the Ponec Theater to understand or enjoy.
But soon, I began to buy in as the next character entered the stage with a small, red plastic bag. His interactions with it were at once playful and strangely domineering; a stark contrast to the desperate escape of the first character from his plastic womb. From that point, I was able to begin building a narrative from clues about the characters. And I’m sure the meaning I found wasn’t “correct” in any sense of the word, but I was able to find it, and I think that’s the point. Absurdist art aims to make the audience uncomfortable because they can’t find solace in clarity of meaning. This performance exists somewhere between the security of clarity and the tension of the absurd. And that’s what makes it so special.
The two women in the cast disco and dispute with their male counterparts, and while their individual personalities are not distinguished as sharply as the men’s, they bring both more lightness, and more intensity to the piece as a whole. The men’s interactions with the women loosely mirror their interactions with the plastic pieces in the opening, which brings delightful coherence to the plot-driven mind. When all four dancers are onstage, the energy is electric. Whether their bodies are pulsing to light-hearted music and calm colors, or the sounds of chaos paired with red, the chemistry between the four is captivatingly portrayed.
Belmar is clever and precise with color choices throughout the piece. At times, it’s difficult to even notice the color changes because it’s only right that the air should be red when the dances evoke the intensity of relational abuse. It’s only right that the world is green for disco.
The final scene holds red, fiery tension for an almost unbearably long time, as the actors switch partners and repeat dances like complicated
addictions or relationship patterns that you just can’t quit. While at first the viewer may flounder at the lack of familiarity or congruity on the stage, by this point there is something that everyone can relate to.
If you’re not a regular at the Ponec, RGB might be a step out of the comfort zone of your ordinary trip to the theater, but it’s not a step off a cliff. It’s thought provoking and visceral, inviting the viewer to fill in the unspecific storyline with his or her own.