“Flight” on the staircase – Liz Magic Laser’s flight of fancy in Times Square

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“Flight,” a performance piece of scenes lifted from classic films, collaged and re-staged by Liz Magic Laser hits the great white way this weekend, or rather it lands on the red staircase in the heart of Times Square. The piece, originally performed at PS1 in 2010, has been refined to meet and respond to the parameters of this most theatrical of intersections and as one of the Times Square guides said to several tourists – “It’s a live show going on – It’s something different.”

Based on the staircase and its use in numerous films, Laser has created a tumultuous piece of live action in which six actors recreate the famous scenes. “Flight,” is a very physical performance, with actors running up and down the stairs, chasing and cornering each other, weaving in and about the audience members scattered on the stairs. Choreographed and scripted but open to the vagaries and flow of an audience, which was entering with hot dogs, ice-cream cones and sodas for a quick lunch, it allows for interaction with the audience and poses an interesting challenge for the actors.

The stairs function as symbols of the changing dynamic of the scenes and the the multiple characters’ fortunes, and they form a wonderfully complex and ever-changing stage. The choreography routinely reverses the roles the actors play from that of the chaser to the victim, from the lead to the follower, the ascendant to the falling. As something of a mash-up, a pastiche of scenes from films of varying styles and dramatic genres, about a third of which were culled from horror films and the rest from classic dramas, all are chock-full of narrative meat. The audience, like some of the characters, feels the rush of impending action and dramatic confrontation. Given its name, “Flight” clearly represents that moment of motion – action, reaction and the unexpected result, leaving the viewer on the edge of identifying with the wrong end of the argument/chase/scene.

The dialogue was sometimes hard to hear – but the mid-day traffic of Times Square almost seemed to play like a movie sound track just slightly out of sync with the screen and the action on the stairs. The Times Square guards handed out a small postcard-sized table of scenes, and the audience could easily follow their favorite moment, or guess the scene/source from the action.

While culled from the 2D screen and performed in daylight, “Flight” gives an interesting twist to several of the scenes and to the idea of viewing. Not actually viewing, not the screen, the stage, or a mediated source,  it felt a bit like a new participation-ride theme park, and the tourists and onlookers of Times Square were up for the ride.


Surrounded by ads filled with models in swimsuits and sales pitches for everything from chocolate bars to cars, this performance was the best show on Broadway. And the price was just right.

Selected as part of the Times Square Arts program, the performance can be seen again on Friday and Saturday – weather permitting. Each performance lasts about 30 minutes
Liz Magic Laser “Flight” on the staircase in Duffy Square in Times Square, May 6 (7, 8, and 9 p.m.), and May 7 (1, 2, 8, and 9 p.m.)

Tags

audience interaction, flight, liz magic laser, movies, new york, public art, theater, times square, times square arts program

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