Sheba Wood ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When viewing Man in a Case, featured at the Cutler Majestic the first weekend of March, the audience was prepared to see famous dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, but they received much more. Man in a Case was a show based on two stories by Anton Chekhov, About Love and Man in a Case. It was directed by Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson and was a progressive and contemporary take on classic stories.
There were no scenes that did not have the supplement of technology. Although the connections between video and audio choices and the actual plot of the show were not always clear, the importance and reasoning was appreciated once it was understood. Especially during the first two-thirds of the show, in which Man in a Case is the featured story, the feelings of paranoia, dishonesty, claustrophobia, and omnipresent surveillance related directly to the constant usage of video. Video was often used at vital moments during the show and mirrored the exact movements on stage from a contrasting or more precise angle.
The main characters in the show were both played by Baryshnikov, who also narrated the portion of the show that was based on About Love. Baryshnikov is famous for his dancing, but just in case there was any doubt in his acting capabilities, he shined in this show. To watch someone who is known for their fluidity as a dancer become very tightly wound and emotionally unavailable is a testament to their talent.
Interestingly, he made a few direct connections to the audience during the show, at times mentioning the freezing conditions in Boston, and at others instructing the audience to stop clapping because the timing was inappropriate. In addition to him, the other actors were also talented, but when it came to moments of intense emotion, their vocals were comparatively lacking. This was especially evident since the show was done with microphones instead of using the power of voice alone; the emotional versatility was an important factor that was missing. This was true for all of the actors with the exception of Baryshnikov and Chris Giarmo, whose singing range was impeccable.
Man in a Case was not a show that could be seen once and perfectly understood. It left sold out audiences thinking, which is the purpose of theatre, but a more rewarding experience was derived from viewing the performance multiple times. This show gave viewers a glimpse into where the where the future of theatre may exist—an overlap between the organic and digital universes.
Man in a Case’s Run has ended, but ArtsEmerson’s 2013-14 Season continues with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. More information online at https://artsemerson.org/.