Sunday, January 20, 2013

Theatre review: "Flight from Himself" with Mark Conway Thompson @ Off The Wall Theater.

The performer Mark Conway Thompson has often appeared on local, national and international stages. His distinctive, memorable presence has added to the depth and color of many plays produced in Pittsburgh, including recently portraying a patient,loving husband in Sharr White’s The Other Place at Off The Wall.

Now he returns there in a bold and rare offering in which he displays another less-often seen aspect of his talent and training. Thompson’s expressive face and body make movement art. I hesitate to call him a mime since a standard definition of that implies wordlessly acting out a story and/or trying to suggest dealing with solid things doing so in an empty space.

I call this “bold” because Thompson’s piece, titled Flight From Himself, does not appear to be designed as entertainment, The himself you see is certainly not a clown, despite briefly donning a bulbous red nose. Nor do you see a person vibrating with happiness nor dragged down by profound solemnity. Rather you may discover someone bewildered but flexible enough to find ways into and out of puzzles, puzzles he deliberately creates.

Being present, letting go with the flow of Thompson's grace and kind of elemental beauty becomes the best way to experience this. To feel rather than think.

His program notes describe this evocative work of art as full of metaphors about existence which “invite interpretation.” And, for this semi-abstraction, he provides titles for elements which may give you clues along the way should you feel you need them.

Consider, though, the music of Rachmaninoff which sometimes underscores Thompson’s movement, or perhaps motivates it. Consider, too, the paintings of Rachmaninoff’s contemporary Wassily Kandinsky, vibrant with color yet not depicting anything precisely. Such creations are not about things; they speak without words. Thompson also seeks to communicate, to share. No words are needed. And yet, here are mine, trying to ex....…..….

Mark Conway Thompson's Flight from Himself continues only through January 26th at Off The Wall Theater 25 W. Main Street, Carnegie, PA. 412/ 489-5840. Tickets at or 1-888-71-TICKETS (1-888/ 718 4253).

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