PIFA REVIEWED: Vainglorious: The Epic Feats of Notable Persons in Europe After the Revolution

Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.
PIFA REVIEWED: Vainglorious: The Epic Feats of Notable Persons in Europe After the Revolution

These huge arts festivals can be overwhelming — how to figure out what's worth seeing? CP's sending someone to nearly every event PIFA's putting on over the next month to help you decide, so check back with Critical Mass all month long for comprehensive, ongoing reviews.

SHOW: Vainglorious: The Epic Feats of Notable Persons in Europe After the Revolution

GENRE: Theater/Exhibition

GROUP: Applied Mechanics

ATTENDED: Sat., April 13, 7 p.m., Christ Church Neighborhood House

CLOSES: April 13

BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: Factions clash and empires rise and fall…Twenty-six of the shiniest rising stars in the Philadelphia scene join forces to create a dazzling new depiction of a potent historical moment: the great sweep of the Napoleonic Empire in the wake of the French Revolution. 

WE THINK: What’s history? Well it ain’t neat. Thus the dramaturges of Applied Mechanics arm you with a flow chart of events, divide the 26-person cast into teams (team Napoleon, team Germaine de Staël, etc.), zone a small gym and its two balconies into parts of the world, and turn you loose to roam, interact, even get some wine and linzertorte if you’re in the right place at the right time. But the play punishes you for your curiosity or fidelity: The more you walk around and see, the less you see. The less you walk around and see, the less you see.

What’s history? Symbols. Thus the tormented spirit of the age, Beethoven, lives in isolated anguish, hardly touching any of the other important personages until one of his concerts turns into a vision of him resentfully conducting Napoleon and Josephine’s coronation. Thus team Talleyrand is composed of five actors playing the same character, a division of self that is not Freudian but political. The Talleyrands appear everywhere, first serving Napoleon, then stripping him of medals and bicorne and finally carving his Europe into pieces.

What’s history? Word and deed. Thus physicality takes on as much import as the English and French dialogue, and battles become dances with snap bangs being thrown, sex is a panting, ass-slapping ritual, and invasions are air-pony Monty Python gallops. With the coordination of director/ringmaster Rebecca Wright and designer Maria Shaplin, such critical moments come to the fore without usurping the sprawl of the play.

What’s drama? The art of the showdown. And for one moment near the end, all the sound and fury of this perpetual motion machine stops, concentrates itself as if it were trying to engineer nothing but this instant all along, and we get Mary Tuomanen’s absorbing Napoleon – just seconds ago within my arm’s length on Elba, desolate and repeating “Josephine, Josephine, Josephine” – restored from exile and confronted by his old troops who are being exhorted to “fire!” The entire hall goes quiet and he utters a line which might as well stand in for the myth of celebrity from that time till now, “You know me.”

What’s history? A Vainglorious tragic-comedy, a flawed inspired play.

Dotun Akintoye

PREVIOUSLY IN PIFA: Gastronomy lessons from the Founding Fathers. 

latest articles

  • Politics

    DACA... The Dream is Over

    Over 100 protestors demonstrated near near Trump Towers in NYC demanding justice after Trump administration announces end of DACA program for "Dreamers".  Protestors carried...
  • Times Square

    Summer Solstice in Times Square

    On Tuesday morning thousands of yogis from around the world traveled to Times Square to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a free yoga class.  The event titled "Solstice in Times...
  • Arts

    Road Tattoo on Broadway

    A beautiful 400 foot mural titled "Sew and Sew" designed and painted by artist @steed_taylor is now along the pavement in the Garment District on Broadway between West 39th and...
  • Events

    Mardi Gras Parade in NYC

    Have you had Sweet Home Alabama on your mind lately?  You can thank the Alabama Tourism Department for that as they promote throughout the city why you should visit Alabama.  On...

Quick and entertaining New York City local news, events, food, arts, sports and more.

Bariloche Home for sale. For sale $1,200,000 USD located in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. Built in 3 levels with in-ground heated swimming pool 45'x18' & six bedrooms suites overlooking Lake Moreno in Bariloche. Por Venta en Bariloche. Hidden Mickey Hidden Mickeys Disney secrets

contact us

My City Paper

http://mycitypaper.com

Website powered by cmsbot

My City Paper • , mycitypaper.com
Copyright © 2019 My City Paper :: New York City News, Food, Sports and Events.
Website design, managed and hosted by DEP Design, depdesign.com, a New York interactive agency