Big Eater at The Kitchen

Andrew Dinwiddie and Neal Medlyn in David Neumann’s Big Eater, photo by Paula Court

An inebriated David Hasselhoff, a Big Mac, Giselle, and pretentious panel discussions – these are just a few of the sources that shaped David Neumann’s Big Eater, which was performed at The Kitchen last weekend and continues through this Saturday.  This may sound like a recipe for big laughs, but Big Eater is a dark, depressing work filled with piles of language and movement – not to mention a pile of chairs from floor to ceiling – that become denser and more disorderly as the work progresses.  Self-destruction, discovery, frustration, and knowledge are themes that arise through dialogue, random remarks, varied movement sections, and a video featuring Frederick Neumann (David’s father) as “the man in the woods” who wanders through a thick, slightly ominous forest of trees.

What stands out most in the work is Neumann’s superb use of repetition.  The six dancers (Natalie Agee, Andrew Dinwiddie, Kennis Hawkins, Neal Medlyn, Weena Pauly, and Will Rawls) echo one another, reverse roles, and layer spoken text to powerful effect.  They are an eclectic bunch and have strikingly different stage presences, making the movement sections even more intriguing.  Using sound from a video of David Hasselhoff being reprimanded by his teenage daughter for drinking, Neumann creates a re-enactment of the scene with Medlyn and Dinwiddie portraying Hasselhoff’s messy condition as they lay on the floor and eat a Big Mac.  Later, other performers repeat dialogue from the video, contrasting the painful conversation with fuller, sweeping movement.  In spite of all of the interaction among the performers and the repetition that pulses through the work, in the end, everyone seems isolated and alone, as if they were wandering through a forest with no clear path.  It is sad and bewildering, even maddening at times, but it is an undeniable part of the human condition.

Tickets to Big Eater can be ordered online or by calling 212.255.5793.  The Kitchen is located at 512 West 19th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Natalie Agee, Will Rawls (on table), Kennis Hawkins, and Weena Pauly, photo by Paula Court

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2 Responses to Big Eater at The Kitchen

  1. Danielle says:

    The more time that’s elapsed since seeing this piece, the more it’s engaged me. The repetition, the seemingly non sequiturs suddenly and unexpectedly coming together brilliantly, the absurd mixed with the poignant – I keep ruminating and finding new questions and answers in my memory of the work. It’s not often anymore for a dance piece to stick with me for this long, and that’s definitely saying something about Neumann’s depth, I think.

  2. Evan says:

    Thanks for sharing, Danielle. I’ve had a similar experience. Some of Big Eater’s subtleties have been lingering in my mind and the various threads in the work are coming together in new, more meaningful ways, making me realize how smart and well-crafted this piece is.

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