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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Tale of 2 Cities: An American Joyride Tracks 4-6 

On Monday night, some fifty people took roost in the pews of the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center and settled in for a long joyride with Heather Woodbury. Some were committed, others were not, and with each successive fifteen minute intermission the crowd began to thin noticeably.

On Tuesday, an even leaner community of TBA patrons gathered to continue with Woodbury for the final three hours of a journey through character, time, and space. Unlike the previous evening, Tuesday’s audience remained relatively strong throughout. Intermissions were not utilized as civilized escape routes, but rather as opportunities to stretch legs and discuss the myriad of narrative developments.

In tracks four through six, Woodbury manages to mingle grief stricken visions of 9/11's Ground Zero with Cabalistic baseball analogies. Low-riders piloted by skull-headed vatos, whisk Catholics and atheists alike across the River Styx to marigold weddings. Evidence is planted, innocence celebrated, Shiva’s sat, and the pieces of hearts – splintered into a million pieces – picked up and celebrated, each in their own turn.

Woodbury’s six-hour patchwork of character and place is undoubtably a challenging piece; if only because it is a significant investment of time and energy. It asks viewers to open their minds, suspend expectations of medium, and to make a commitment. It’s quite a bit for an artist to ask.

Yes, there are some tongue-tied moments, unsteady accents, and visual complications littered throughout Woodbury’s six-hour solo performance, but audiences willing to make the commitment and weather the potholes of this "work in progress" will be rewarded with a story and an experience that is as rich and complex as life itself.

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