Pain Made Beautiful Oct 7, 2011

by Erin

Well, I don’t really know where to start with this, so please bear with my stream of consciousness reviewing style. I never really understood or had an affinity to performance art of the blood and guts variety. I just completely did not comprehend how the body could be a medium or material for something. Plus I didn’t understand why people were so mad. I was just like, wow! Doesn’t that hurt? Hey, lighten up girlfriend! It’s not so bad! And then one day I realized, holy shit…it actually IS that bad. It’s so bad that I can’t even fucking believe it. Like you’re just walking along, tra la la, and suddenly someone hits you in the head with a bat and after that you are just fucked and can’t forget it. The monumental stupidity and unfairness of life, the unbelievable beauty and the grotesque pain of it. And you just want to scream, what the fuck? Fuck you! Who’s running this goddamn ship? Of course I knew the story of Jacqueline du Pré but last night I was forced to really confront the monstrous unfairness of it. An amazing talent, a virtuoso destroyed in a completely repulsive way. Not only that, but a bunch of other people (including myself) are just going to keep on living and walking around like it’s just no big deal. That is a revolting state of affairs. Welcome to the world! And really all you can do is fight. Angélica Liddell is fighting in the most beautiful, genuine way. Her presence onstage is so true and real with no pretense or actor-y shenanigans (thank god) that I almost felt like a creep watching it. It was like watching someone through the window of her apartment. Her pain really does become something profound and beautiful. The transformation of the tall, elegant woman in the beautiful white coat to a crouched animal in a black sweatshirt, connected to the spirit of du Pré by a beam of light. The spots of blood on the white cloth. The white chair like a throne. The strings of a cello. The shadows on the wall. The sound of a bottle breaking. Liddell’s immensely expressive fingers and her unsetting howls. Liddell herself and her witchy, otherworldly, very female presence. The strains of the Elgar concerto, played by du Pré – actually this part of the piece was really overwhelming for me and I was grateful the music was so loud because I was crying so hard. It was crushingly beautiful and horrible at once. I sat in my seat a little stunned after the show. Liddell underwent a Gethsemane of sorts and it felt like a personal message to me. I felt privileged and grateful to be able to watch this amazing artist convey something real. It’s about time.