Saturday, Jun. 30 & Sunday, Jul. 1
Von der Heyden Studio Theater, Durham
“I was scared,” Anne Plamondon says during her solo show, The Same Eyes as Yours, about visiting her father in a mental hospital when she was a small child. And that’s all I could think about during the piece: how afraid and angry she must’ve been to have had a father with schizophrenia who never recovered.
This is a testament to her skill as a choreographer and performer. Plamondon was able to create that world for the audience, displaying a sense of the chaos her father felt and the bewilderment of a young person watching it. Some of that came from her choices in lighting and music and composition, but most of it was the result of smart, clear choreography.
Stylistically speaking, the piece has three main parts. The first consists of dispassionate, almost intellectual movement—the highly articulated foot, the concave chest that suddenly opens regally—that might represent a man’s descent into insanity, as he becomes increasingly caught up in the thoughts and images inside his head.
In the next section, we’re given a glimpse into how that world might’ve developed for Plamondon’s father. Plamondon, who has heretofore spent her career interpreting others’ choreography, seems to have an ingrained tendency toward precision, but her movements and facial expressions are able to convey some of the fear and horror and grotesqueness her father might’ve felt and exhibited.
The final section obviously belongs to Plamondon herself. In it, she’s a younger woman trying to make sense of the fact that her father was not only ill but also absent during her childhood, trying to wrap her arms around all of the complicated emotions she experienced. By the end, there’s a feeling of lightness and ambiguity; she isn’t necessarily OK with everything in her childhood, but she’s OK with not being OK.
Perhaps most impressive overall is Plamondon’s ability to give the impression of genuine vulnerability and honesty. She began creating this show years ago, so surely she’s simply acting at this point, but it feels real, and that’s nothing less than a gift to the audience.