Do you remember the comfort and wonder of reading or being told stories as a child? The way that the story would envelop you like a warm blanket and the world and details of the story would come to life filled with color like magic in your mind? This is what it is like to see a show by the Transatlantic Love Affair, and their latest show After The Fires seems to fill this magical and fully engrossing mold more than any other show that I have seen of theirs in the past.
Perhaps that is because unlike past shows of theirs that I have seen which have been based on fairy tales or moments in history, After The Fires is a completely original story, told in a completely original world. In the world of After The Fires life is hard, a illness is running rampant, the healers of old all left after the people stopped singing. The people of this society today work hard in their own trades, keeping the well, making jars which also hold both their water and their stories and scavenging for materials. They now pass on the songs of old so that they will be ready with the healers return from the green.
This world, like one out of an ancient story is brought to life in Transatlantic Love Affair's signature style, using only the bodies of the ensemble, musical accompaniment composed and performed on the cello by Emily Dantuma and the lighting design by Barry Browning. The movement of the ensemble comprised of Gracie Anderson, Vinecia Coleman, Domino D'Lorion, Derek Lee Miller, Boo Segersin and Allison Witham and the way in which it brought the world to life was perhaps the most impressive. Without sets or props and using only their bodies they create all aspects of the story from an old growth forest, or the result of falling into a stream. This simplified way of visual story telling results in a visually more complete world in the audience's mind than if set pieces had been used.
The world of and story After the Fires would not have been complete without the characters and deep relationships between them. In the short 75 minute running time of After The Fires I fell in love with the characters. I rooted for their successful, feeling as though I longed for the return of the healers just as much as they did. I do not want to give away the plot, but After the Fires is not only a great example of world buidling, but also takes you on an emotional journey.
Transatlantic Love Affair's After The Fires is playing at the Illusion Theater in the Cowles Center until February 22nd. It is a must see if you have never seen work by the Transatlantic Love Affair before and you are looking to witness a different type of theatrical magic. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo courtsey of The Illusion Theater and TLA