Review: "(beyond) Doomsday Scrolling" Assembles a Striking, Immersive Chorus of Women's Wartime Voices
(beyond) Doomsday Scrolling
Collectively created by the members of AnomalousCo
Directed by Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva with Jeremy Goren and Diana Zhdanova
Presented by AnomalousCo at HERE
145 6th Ave, Manhattan, NYC
February 16-26, 2023
|Photo by Jarrett Robertson|
Early in the show, as Ukrainian emigré Lesya Verba accompanies her rich, strong vocals on the bandura, women begin to arrive in the shelter, in what feels like a trickle that quickly becomes a chaotic flood, some carrying bags of belongings and one with a baby. The twelve women and one man (Simona DeFeo, Ylfa Edelstein, Claudia Godi, Jeremy Goren, Savanna Sinéad Kenny, Eka Kukhianidze, Monica Blaze Leavitt, Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva, Alina Mihailevschi, Wilemina Olivia-Garcia, Lesya Verba, Weronika Wozniak, and Diana Zhdanova) who perform (beyond) Doomsday Scrolling hail from ten countries, and this multilingual show is presented without no surtitles, reproducing for the audience some of the experience of the onstage characters (an experience that will differ depending on the audience member). The women who arrive in the shelter, notably, quickly begin working together, despite language barriers (although perfect harmony will not always reign in the theater shelter). Multiplicity of voice remains the show's dominant mode throughout. Song often overlaps speech–and, in at least one scene, seems deliberately to drown out the speech of the UN Security Council representatives, a feminist counterpoint to predominantly patriarchal discourse–and excerpts from non-English texts are spoken simultaneously with their English translations, arguably lending such dialogue itself a kind of anxious musicality in a production where music and vocal harmony play significant roles.
|Photo by Jarrett Robertson|
In knitting together perspectives on women's wartime experiences from current-day Ukraine to Nazi Germany to mid-twentieth-century Cuba to the early twenty-first-century U.S.-Mexico border and more, (beyond) Doomsday Scrolling creates compelling and provocative juxtapositions. As long as we continue to dress up war in money and paperwork and uniforms in order to present it as a somehow legitimate or even inevitable course of action, women will continue to be at the center of the suffering which it engenders. Speaking about Mariupol, Edelstein laments, "I want returned what cannot be returned," a concisely heartbreaking summation of the tragedy of wartime. At the same time, the show leaves open space for resistance and survival–one way, perhaps, in which we might take the "beyond" of its title. Anyone looking for fiery, adventurous theater should be sure to experience (beyond) Doomsday Scrolling before its song is ended.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards