"Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny" (Review) -- Shari Barrett
Not Man Apart Creates PARADISE LOST: RECLAIMING DESTINY, Another Remarkable Physical Theatre Triumph.
Reviewed by Shari Barrett on 3-10-17
As a life-long lover of Greek Mythology, I first discovered Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble four years ago when they were presenting HERCULES FURENS (The Madness of Hercules) at the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica. The show’s title pulled me in, but the amazing physical prowess of cast members and the group’s continuing evolution as innovative, physical artists keeps me coming back for more, with each production more amazing than the last. And their storytelling is done brilliantly without the use of dialogue.
Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble and Greenway Arts Alliance are now presenting a movement adaptation of John Milton’s eloquent epic poem: Paradise Lost. The innovative vision adapted by NMA Co-Artistic DirectorJones Welsh Talmadge, Co-directed with NMA Co-Artistic Director Laura Covelli, blends dance, acrobatics, dynamic partnering and Not Man Apart’s unique brand of physical storytelling, to relate a version of Milton’s iconic tale of Adam and Eve’s Temptation and the War in Heaven, built around a few paragraphs in the beginning of Genesis.
As Paradise Lost unfolds, many other parts of the Bible, particularly Satan’s role in the temptation of Adam and Eve, plays out as Milton intended to “justify the ways of God to men,” by tracing the cause and result for all involved. As the story is portrayed physically by Not Man Apart, by its end we come to realize that man’s fall at the hands of Satan left us in a better place, with opportunity for greater good than would have been possible without the fall.
Not Man Apart’s retelling of humankind’s fall from grace includes a modern feminist approach to this timeless literary masterpiece with its feminine characters taking active roles in each situation, from the Mother of God (ethereal Marguerite French) and Eve (lovely innocent Alina Bolshakova), to the red-net clad Sin (sensuous Laura Covelli) who adds highly seductive elements to Satan’s evil after the two give birth to Death (James Bane). The telling proposes a timely conversation of gender equality, proactive communication, and the balance of power as each of the women plays just as much a part of the story as their male counterparts.
First, I must commend the stunning digital animation effects of J-Walt Adamczyk and video installation artist Hannah Beavers, whose artistry supports the performance ensemble with battles as angels and demons, powerful visual images of the creation of the universe and the Garden of Eden, all of which are projected live on stage to weave an emotional tale surrounded by evocative original music and costumes.
There are so many memorable moments of physicality in the production, it is difficult to know where to begin since each performer amazes and dazzles with their incredible skills, including the women already mentioned above to incredible contortionists/dancers Alina Bolshakova as Eve and Leslie Charles Roy Jr. as Adam as their movements often seem to defy gravity. And while it may appear wrong to praise Satan as the lead character in the show, as portrayed by Jones (Welsh) Talmadge who, along with Laura Covelli, directed the production, Satan becomes a force of nature who drives the entire story. Talmadge flies across the stage on harness and chains as Satan endeavors to rule the world. Imagine an Olympic gymnast on the rings without the rings to visualize his physical strength when hanging upside down and posing while dangling in the air attached only by chains on his wrists.
Talmadge explains, “I’ve been working on this play for over 10 years and Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny marks my directorial debut. I’m thrilled to be working with co-director Laura Covelli and the Not Man Apart Ensemble (of which he is the Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer) on such a fun, humorous, moving and athletic spectacle for every age and walk of life. We hope to entertain, and also empower our audiences; inspire positive action and promote love and ocnn4ection over fear and conflict.”
Adds Co-Director Laura Covelli, “At a time in our country when race, religion sexual preference and gender are once again in the spotlight, Not Man Apart as a company of artists with diverse multi-cultural, multi-faith backgrounds, have come together to tell a story about humanity and equality… a story that is even more imperative for us to tell in the light of our current political culture in America.”
I guarantee as you are amazed and dazzled by their artistry, the message of overcoming all obstacles to succeed in your own life can happen when you put your own words and thoughts into action. Let their artistry inspire and lead the way for you!
Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny continues through April 2, 2017 at Greenway Court Theatre, 544 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Free parking in the adjacent lot on the campus of Fairfax High School. Tickets on Friday & Saturday at 8pm at $30 General Admission, $20 Senior with ID, $15 Military & Student with ID. On Sunday at 7pm, tickets are $20 General Admission & Senior, $15 Military & Student with ID. To learn more about Not Man Apart or to purchase tickets in advance, visit
Originally posted HERE by Shari Barrett