A couple of trusted colleagues tipped us off about In the Solitude of Cotton Fields. We requested video, and once it arrived, we gathered around a computer to watch. And then something happened which almost never happens when we watch videos: we went crazy for the show. Jump around the office, oh my god, this is amazing kind of crazy.
When we caught up with director Radosław Rychcik (aka Radek) and company during their stint at the T:BA Festival in Portland this past September we saw that many others were having the same response. We literally heard random bartenders and passersby on the street talking about the show. Monologist Mike Daisey was performing at the festival and even worked them into a show he’s creating, talking about their propensity to drink and sing until sun up, saying how they make theater from the heart and how this is a rare feat. Seattle’s Dayna Hanson and collaborators were there, too, and told us and anecdote involving hanging out with the Poles, drinking in the back of a moving Penske truck with more singing and impassioned conversations about making art. With heart.
So why does this show and why do these artists have everyone so worked up? One might say it’s because Cotton Fields is representative of a kind of Eastern European physical theater not seen in the states much but that’s too simplistic and doesn’t speak to the nuance found in Radek’s approach. Yes the actors gyrate and purr their way through the dense little play but they manage a kind of honesty where everything feels on the line in their strange negotiation without ever feeling hammy or put on. Radek teases a lot from minimal elements – spare staging and some dry ice – with a confidence not usually found in someone just turning 30. Of course, having a band of the “Chillers” caliber helps push the drama considerably with the driving score imbuing the text with life and relevance. Overall, the experience reads like a clever theatrical proof with clear, undisputable logic, though math is rarely this entrancing.
Jessica : ontheboards.org