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Theatre Review: Dernier Cri

Saturday night I was fortunate enough to see Dernier Cri, Third Cloud from the Left’s latest production. I went into this almost completely blind; all I knew about the show was that it was about fashion and it was being performed in a private home. Excited by the underground feel, (literally, as it turns out. The performance space is in the basement.) I put on an ascot and headed into the cloudy world of high stakes fashion.

I don’t know if I made a good case for reviving the ascot as a fashionable accessory, but I certainly enjoyed an interesting night.

We began by finding the house. This was helped along by encountering other people who were well-dressed and looking vaguely lost. We were greeted in the foyer by the mightily overworked Esperanza Torres (expertly played by Carol Walker) and spent the next fifteen minutes sipping wine and mingling in what felt to me like a strange cross between a dinner party and a LARP. I really don’t know how much of the little pre-show bits were scripted and how much were just improvised, but we were already getting a feel for the characters well before we descended to the theater proper.

Dernier Cri is a very intimate show, and heavily character driven. I’m not going to bother with a plot summary; this play relies on the depth of the characters, and the sense of intimacy it creates with them to carry the audience along. I could easily imagine myself complaining that nothing happened had this been produced with less care and skill, because so much of the action is inside the characters’ heads.

But we get inside those heads. We feel the strength and vulnerability of these characters, their ambitions, their machinations, their insecurities. We get to know these people and that makes the small story feel big. All the little moments become important because this show makes a very successful effort to get us to care about these characters.

I’ll share my favorite part with you. There’s a scene where Silvio Quilombo (Carlos Barrera) is explaining his vision to the models. There’s low, rhythmic music adding a quiet intensity as he poses them one at a time with his cane, telling a little story to go with each pose. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful live art I’ve ever seen, and the final touch, the little cherry on top, is when Silvio, who has been carefully using only his cane to adjust the positions of the models, reaches out with his hand to take Aimer’s. Aimer (Jean-Paul Jones) had earlier made it clear that he generally dislikes being touched, and watching his face flicker through emotions, beginning with shock and ending with warmth, is the perfect capstone to this scene.

Dernier Cri runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the next two weeks, until the Twelfth. At $65 tickets are fairly pricey, but that’s somewhat offset by food and wine, and you have an excellent chance to mingle with the cast and crew afterwards. Once the show proper ended we returned to the main floor of the house for a lovely buffet dinner, and most of the company joined us once they’d scrubbed their faces and changed their clothes. There was so much more than just the show itself that I feel simply calling it a play undersells the evening a bit.

If you like creative independent musical theatre, fashion, and intimate stories, and if you can afford the ticket price, I highly recommend this experience. Tickets are $65 per seat and can be purchased here.

Third Cloud from the Left is doing some very interesting, creative things, and while I probably won’t be able to see Dernier Cri again, I’m definitely looking forward to what else they have to offer.

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