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Stage Page: ‘Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny’ is a remarkable physical theatre triumph Shari Barrett | Fri, Mar 17 2017 10:09 PM

As a life-long lover of Greek Mythology, I first discovered Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble four years ago when they were presenting Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules) at the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica. The show’s title pulled me in, but the amazing physical prowess of cast members and the group’s continuing evolution as innovative, physical artists keeps me coming back for more, with each production more amazing than the last. And their storytelling is done brilliantly without the use of dialogue. 

Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble and Greenway Arts Alliance are now presenting a movement adaptation of John Milton’s eloquent epic poem: Paradise Lost. The innovative vision adapted by NMA Co-Artistic Director Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, Co-directed with NMA Co-Artistic Director Laura Covelli, blends dance, acrobatics, dynamic partnering and the group’s unique brand of physical storytelling, to relate a version of Milton’s iconic tale of Adam and Eve’s Temptation and the War in Heaven. As the story unfolds, Satan’s role is shown by tracing the cause and result of his involvement on everyone involved. By its end, we come to realize that man’s fall at the hands of Satan left us in a better place, with opportunity for greater good than would have been possible without the fall. 

This retelling of our fall from grace includes a more modern approach with its feminine characters taking active roles in each situation, from the Mother of God (ethereal Marguerite French), Eve (lovely innocent Alina Bolshakova), and the red-net clad Sin (sensuous Laura Covelli) who adds highly seductive elements to Satan’s evil. Their involvement proposes a timely conversation of gender equality, proactive communication, and the balance of power between men and women. 

First, I must commend the stunning digital animation effects of J-Walt Adamczyk (Father God) and video installation artist Hannah Beavers, whose artistry supports the performance ensemble with powerful visual images of the creation of the universe and the Garden of Eden, all projected live on stage to weave an emotional tale surrounded by evocative original music and costumes.

 

There are so many memorable moments of physicality in the production, with movements that seem to defy gravity, it is difficult to know where to begin since each performer amazes and dazzles with their incredible skills, including the women already mentioned above to incredible contortionist/dancer Leslie Charles Roy Jr. as Adam. And Satan, as portrayed by Jones (Welsh) Talmadge, becomes a force of nature who drives the entire story, often flying across the stage on harness and chains. Imagine an Olympic gymnast on the rings without the rings to visualize his physical strength when hanging upside down and posing while dangling in the air attached only by chains secured to his wrists.

Talmadge explains, “I’ve been working on this play for over 10 years and PARADISE LOST: RECLAIMING DESTINY marks my directorial debut. I’m thrilled to be working on such a fun, humorous, moving and athletic spectacle for audiences of all ages. We hope to entertain and empower everyone; to inspire positive action and promote love and connection over fear and conflict.”  Make it so.

Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny continues through April 2  at Greenway Court Theatre, 544 North Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. There is free parking in the adjacent lot on the campus of Fairfax High School. Tickets are $30 on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and $20 on Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets in advance at www.notmanapart.com  

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