Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The Life and Times of Barry Goldhubris 

A big naked man stands with his back to us under a stark light as thousands of silver pieces shimmer around him. This is the stunning, visual image which opened the "The Life and Times of Barry Goldhubris," a film and dance performance. Is this his birth? His flight through the cosmos to earth? It is an image of striking brilliance, the strongest one in the entire 60-minute show.

The day after seeing "Barry Goldhubris" and chatting with its creators David Brooks and Lawrence Goldhuber, I found out this showing at PICA was the premiere of the piece and it still feels like it’s finding its center and its meaning.

The most evocative moments of the show occur with Goldhuber dances. When his body moves, whether it’s in a dance with a mop or wrestling inside a straightjacket, he grabs our full attention. As a dancer, he has not only size but immense charisma and performance presence. When he dances on the stage, we can’t take our eyes off him.

As a whole the show feels like a hodgepodge of ideas and stories that are not yet building on each other to create a more powerful whole. Some of the sequences, like the gigantic talking heads at the end are wonderful but they go on too long.

As a dancer, Goldhuber is very seductive and sensuous. His dance in a straightjacket looks like a 1000 wiggling white worms. Sitting with his back to us, facing nine gigantic replicas of himself on the screen, his slightest movement evokes our empathy. He is both broken man and lost baby boy. These moments, and there are several of them in the piece, take our breath away, with their truthfulness and vulnerability.

Golhuber brings sensitivity, humor and honesty to his dancing and I wanted to see more of those qualities in his acting. When he’s speaking to the audience, his acting felt more like he was indicating feelings but not really feeling his feelings. In one part of the show when he’s playing a motivational speaker, I wanted to feel him seducing us as powerfully with his voice as I had seen him in his dance.

-- Gigi Rosenberg

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