- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

The best way to approach Paata Tsikurishvili’s stunning theater piece, “Bohemians,” is to abandon yourself to it. Don’t try to figure out a plot in this 70-minute, wordless meditation on man’s equal capacities for destruction and union. Just sink into this cinematic world of movement, wall-to-wall music and artful imagery.

Mr. Tsikurishvili and his dancer-choreographer wife Irina have taken inspiration from the Bible, Greek mythology, modern art movements such as cubism and expressionism, and childhood games (in their hands, the game of “pattycake” is at turns poignant and menacing) for a fast-paced, kinetic look at human history.

“Bohemians” starts on the molecular level as man emerges from the primordial ooze, bodies seeming to float in space except for hands twitching with restless life.

Two haunting Nature Spirits (Irina Tsikurishvili and Catherine Gasta) with butterflies and moss tangled in their brambled hair, imbue the new creatures with a sense of wonder and curiosity.

We segue into the Garden of Eden, with Adam (Iraki Kavsadze) and Eve (Jodi Niehoff) beset by the Devil (Greg Marzullo), a masked serpent bearing an apple, and with this knowledge comes a separation from the divine.

From there, “Bohemians” whips through the Old Testament, from Cain and Abel to the Tower of Babel, a marvelously inventive scene with the cast forming the edifice, their stern faces poking out of holes in the cubist-inspired blocks. Before the tower tumbles, they look like a Picasso painting in tableaux.

A segment chronicling the age of royalty ranges from the violent to the farcical, as the cast vies for the crown. Scenes of usurping and subjugation give way to deftly comic bits, especially Mr. Kavsadze playing an infantile, idiot prince — his rubbery attempts to walk are priceless — and Anna Lane as a queen who presents her posterior to be kissed by the fawning court.

The remainder of “Bohemians” takes place in the modern age, with Mr. Marzullo as a fish out of water suddenly finding himself in 21st century America, a surreal landscape where you don’t bump into buildings but buildings bump into you.

The hustle-bustle of the streets is rendered in a swirling scene where trench-coated figures move in sharp-cut patterns, never breaking stride in their endless wheeling and dealing.

Perhaps the most evocative piece of the work centers on cloning, as a scientist (Mr. Kavsadze) tends to his test-tube babies, which are attached to him via long silver tethers.

They float peacefully on their artificial umbilical cords, until the scientist begins to experiment on them. He gives them a heart, then an aptitude for violence. Suddenly, the creations break free of their creator, and the result is chaos.

“Bohemians” ends on a tentatively hopeful note, as the Adam and Eve figures emerge from the bedlam, this time choosing connection over temptation.

Once again, Synetic displays its talent for impeccable movement — rhythmic but never repetitious, economical, with never a gesture wasted. A gifted cast seems to firmly grasp the specific vocabulary of the Tsikurishvilis, who are from the Republic of Georgia, an area known for experimental theater fusing dance and stylized movement.

“Bohemians” may not make perfect sense, but that is not its intention. Instead, the striking images inspire you to think about the ways in which we lose our connection to the natural and spiritual world in our quest for power.


WHAT: “Bohemians” by Paata Tsikurishvili

WHERE: Synetic Theater at Classika, 4041 S. 28th St., Arlington

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through March 6.

TICKETS: $24 to $29

PHONE: 703/824-8060


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