There’s a certain complexity inside of us that is impossible to express in words. The human mind has a way of interpreting what it sees to fit its own reality. That reality is shared but still remains individualistic. While what we all see is the same, we don’t give it the same meaning. That’s the beauty of being alive most of the time, the journey of finding what each thing means to you. “Butterfly,” directed by Ramesh Meyyappan, is loosely inspired by Madame Butterfly, yet they tell two different stories using the same themes and a similar storyline. Adapted by Meyyappan himself, the production takes the well known short story, and takes away the words, using movement and puppetry to show us how his reality saw it. To share with us.
Using stage magic, puppets, dance and music, Meyyappan invites us into his brain and puts in front of us his vision. The story revolves around a kitemaker named Butterfly (Naomi Livingstone) who is being courted by a Customer (Chris Alexander) who loves her work as much as her. Butterfly, on the other hand, falls in love with a butterfly catcher named Nabokov (Meyyappan himself) and changes her entire life to accommodate this love. The play then pits these two men against eachother, both going for her affection, both destroying her when she doesn’t become what they want from her. Love is shown at its best and its worst in the span of 60 minutes, and we are all there to not watch, but to come to our own conclusion about the themes. Meyyappan succeeded in creating a work that is neither good or bad, that you can’t judge in the same way, because it is not standard. It’s a work of art.
This work of art was accomplished by a bold and creative group that had to be so in sync, they accepted Meyyappan’s reality, which was the only way this could work the way it did. Darren Brownlie’s choreography works most of the time, but when it didn’t, it didn’t distract. It just didn’t connect as well as the other aspects. The work of Gavin Glover and his puppetry definitely gave life to this show when it was beginning to slow down, and grabbed our attention right back. This will divide people, as the last puppet was used so well, but the look of the puppet itself was more creepy than endearing. It is of a little kid we watch grow up and I’m sure creepy is not what they went for. These are minor hitches on an incredibly deep journey.
The play will be very divisive. On the last moments, I saw people laughing while others were engrossed. The play takes itself very seriously, and its gloomy environment can ultimately grow thin. But what is effected for those of us that enjoy this kind of work, this was a good night for art. “Butterfly” will be playing on 59E59 until May 14. If you are in for a unique look at an old piece, then you have a good option right here.
*All images via Carol Rosegg
Out of 4 stars:
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