The idea of truth as a slippery concept, ultimately subjective and unknowable, was the thread connecting the five works presented by Wendy Woodson and Present Company at Dance Place over the weekend.
Formerly of Washington and now based in Amherst, Mass., Woodson works in the manner of a theatrical director as well as a choreographer and playwright. Combining spoken text and movement, her interdisciplinary theater explores the edges of certainty.
The work is deliberately elusive. Woodson and her collaborative performers are true escape artists, Houdinis of chronology and the literal. Throwing out snatches of monologue and gestures, they suggest a "meaning," only to withdraw it, undermine it or change it with the image that follows. Meanings overlap, beginning in the middle and segueing into something else before really ending. When repeated with slight changes, the text veers off wildly in allusion. The movement too is mined for ambiguity; it is based on familiar expressive gestures whose dynamic and spatial textures are cockeyed.
The most striking of the works was "Sand Man," a sort of "Three Faces of Eve" meets "Great Balls of Fire," created by Woodson and Court Dorsey. In a tour de force of lightning-speed versatility, Dorsey portrayed a lounge lizard who frenziedly shifts among an entire green room of personalities.
A strikingly quirky performer herself, Woodson was "Jane Doe," a parodic assemblage of platitudes and cliches exploring the notion of obligation. Her quick wit was also much in evidence in "Duet," in which she and Jim Brown improvised riffs commenting on the history of their relationship.
In "Trout," Peter Schmitz provided a disjointed verbal and movement chronicle of a deteriorating relationship, embodying both its banality and horror. "Out of the Blue," a duet performed by Thia Sontag and Susan Thompson, was similar in style to the other works but lacked their conciseness and appealing oddity.