Stuck On You

Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt can’t move. They shift uncomfortably under the weight of a rainbow of fabric and clothing that hangs messily from their bodies. Standing on tables, they are disheveled giants who stare aloofly around the silent room. They are, in fact, trapped by each other in You’re Me, Driscoll’s newest work, which premiered at the Kitchen last month. This could be either childhood dress-up (although the atmosphere is dense and stiff) or a tragic portrayal of the messy unraveling of two people who inevitably become extensions of one another.


Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt in You’re Me. Photo credit: Paula Court.

Once they manage to shed their layers and clear the space around them, the two performers morph in silence from one situation to the next—some of them silly, and others filled with despair. Zaritt presents a flower to Driscoll and wraps his arm around her, but she stops him. She demonstrates specifically how she wants to be hugged and how he should present the flower, and they try again. Later, Zaritt puts on a macho façade as he tries to lure Driscoll, whose changing facial expressions suggest that she is by turns disgusted and attracted to his shtick. Balancing their own needs with their need for each other seems impossible and rarely genuine. It’s as if they’re both saying, “I need you to love me this way, not that way.”

Sexual encounters, played out hilariously with the help of myriad props, sound design by Chris Giarmo, and the performers’ awkward, self-conscious interactions, lead to a messier and more fantastical exploration of their relationship. Covered in spray paint, feathers, and wigs, with oranges occasionally stuffed into their clothing, the two become maniacal, lost, and bewildered. They are literally covered in each other’s messes as they gallop, scream, shove, embrace, and grope.

Driscoll, appearing in her own work for the first time in five years, is lovably gawky and ungraceful—fitting qualities for a piece about the chaotic nature of a relationship. Whether conveying humor or agony, she is relentless as she peels back the layers of a self that is shaped by another. Absurdity is everywhere: in her character’s demands, her zany movement, and her desperation. She repeatedly hoists herself onto Zaritt’s back and furiously gallops, taking the reins—literally—of their partnership. Zaritt is a sculptural and fluid dancer, and although there are glimpses of this, You’re Me shows much more of his striking rawness than his virtuosity. He attempts to be Driscoll’s dream man as he showers her with affection, but suddenly he is quivering and filled with rage as his eyes bulge and he points his finger at her. When his macho act seems like it will never end, he unexpectedly segues into a sheepish giggle and applause for Driscoll.

Watching such a tumultuous relationship is exhausting, and You’re Me drags on for so long that it becomes irritating and borderline insane. But the lengthiness suggests the futility of the couple’s efforts, regardless of the passing of time. Driscoll collapses to the floor in an agonizing puddle of sobs. And yet, moments later, she pulls herself together and joins Zaritt in the corner to share an orange, looking a bit more cheerful. All better. For now, anyway. Herein lies a sad truth: They cannot detach. Although the stage is a horrifying mess, with pieces of their selves strewn in every direction, they reel in their clothing and hop in circles, once again becoming entangled.


Contributor

Evan Namerow

EVAN NAMEROW is the co-founder and head writer of DancingPerfectlyFree.com, a blog devoted to dance in and around New York City, and a founding member of the Collective for Dance Writing and New Media. She lives in Brooklyn.

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