Given the title of Golden Thread’s latest production, Ecstasy: a water fable, I expected talking animals acting out human dilemmas and imparting practical advise such as ‘slow but steady wins the race.’ Ecstasy offers nothing so neatly packaged. Instead, it weaves three dream-like tales together in what I consider to be more a poem than a play. I know this distinction is contentious and perhaps arbitrary, but to me Ecstasy seems to sacrifice plot and character for feeling, meaning, and expression. The action is less a conduit for revelatory story, and more a skeleton for the meat of visually and sonically evocative moments. Like poetry, the piece seems less concerned with building character arcs so much as creating feelings and lasting impressions.
This distinction between poem and play manifests most notably in the translation of the Sufi fable that inspired Ecstasy, ‘When the Waters Changed.’ It is the very brief story of someone who sees the world as mad, but chooses to join it in madness rather than live alone. In Ecstasy, one of the three plots concerns a man held up in a basement, surrounded by water pipes, obsessively writing on walls and catching dripping water in buckets. Though this man eventually joins the alien world outside his basement, thereby revealing himself to be the translation of the inspiring fable, we’re never given more than cryptic declarations of motive. This tells me that Denmo Ibrahim is less interested in why that man gathers water in a basement, so much as she wants us to feel what it’s like to live there.
This hereby ends what is currently the shortest blog entry I’ve ever written for Bay Stage. It’s not that I have nothing to say about Ecstasy, rather it’s that I have a great deal I could say. However, just as Ecstasy weaves together disparate stories, tangentially connected themes and meanings, so are my thoughts only vaguely uniform.