I want to start this blog by saying that Faustin is the only show I’ve seen a mass-exodus from, and it was rude and unfair to the performer. People who plan to bail 10 minutes in should not sit in the first row, period. I suspect the reason many of them left was because of the music, which was deafening. The scene was this: four dancers, two wearing Linen monk’s robes, one in a swingers coat and plaid pants, and Faustin in a wonderful newspaper mini-skirt. Faustin is a beautiful performer and one of the more limber dancers I’ve ever seen, it looked like his joints could rotate every which way. His voice was also clear and wonderful, and the parts of the piece in which all the dancers sang were lovely. The DJ was a part of the stage and spent the show crouched over his laptop. The music he created was loud moans that reverberated into my chest, which made the audience noticeably uncomfortable. People left at this point, and I admit it was so loud my heart hurt. It seemed like the DJ just needed a monitor, because had the volume stayed a little lower it would have been tolerable and still enough to make the audience uncomfortable.
This is a show that is meant to be uncomfortable, and in that it succeeds. The stage was sparse with the back revealed and bare light-bulbs swinging from above. There were no soft curtains, no plush clothing, and everywhere discomfort. But while the music was meant to be acerbic, it didn’t have to be intolerable. The DJ seemed to direct the show, and Faustin seemed to stop and wait for him at several points, which was unfortunate and distracted from Faustin and the other dancers. It didn’t help that the DJ looked really, really high for the whole show, which I know was due in-part to his concentration on the music, but his huddled figure in a hoodie was a distraction from Faustin’s beautiful movements. Faustin is from the Congo and has been exiled and retuned, so discomfort feels appropriate in a piece created in this turbulent region. If only the DJ were off to the side, we could have watched the dancers a little better, and some people could have gotten to the end of the piece. The DJ feels appropriate as an element of the industrial, stark story, but he wasn’t a fulfilling centerpiece.
For me the most moving scene occurred near the end, when Faustin placed a white sack over the swinger dancer and heaved him onto one shoulder. Faustin then walked the stage with the other dancer telling a story about “mama” and “papa” from within the bag. It was breathtaking. If only the beginning of the piece could have given us similar moments.