Review: CorningWorks’s "Remains" at the New Hazlett Theater | Program Notes

Review: CorningWorks’s "Remains" at the New Hazlett Theater

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The show, which wrapped this past Sunday, was Beth Corning’s thoughtful and poignant reboot of her 2013 one-woman dance-theater work.

Beth Corning in "Remains" - PHOTO COURTESY OF C. WALSH PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo courtesy of C. Walsh Photography
  • Beth Corning in "Remains"
Remains is largely about how objects can spark the tenderest memories of those no longer with us. Britton Mauk’s set was built around an upstage wall of brown cardboard boxes from which Corning drew items of clothing (father’s shoes, mother’s coat) and even, with a sort of theatrical sleight-of-hand, which she entered, only to emerge with two halves of a full-sized dining-room table.

A recreation of a long-ago family dinner, in fact, is an early highlight, with Corning assuming multiple roles, mostly in pantomime. The sequence sets the tone for a series of imaginary reunions built around discovered objects, including a tete-a-tete inspired by two wine glasses, performed on a square of light on an otherwise darkened stage. The hour-long work is accompanied by concise texts projected on the brown-box backdrop, and by music from several composers, often featuring darting violin passages.

Corning originally developed Remains with Minneapolis-based, Tony-winning physical-theater director Dominque Serrand following the death of her mother and a close friend, and last year returned to work on it further after performing an excerpt in Sweden.

The payoff for Pittsburgh audiences in five performances last week (I attended on Saturday night) was solid, and came to a point with the moving final image of a meal prepared but not yet eaten, evoking both loss and the welcoming of new memories.

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