Rosanna Gamson’s Layla Means Night, a riff on the Persian fable of Scheherazade, draws audiences into what program notes describe as “an immersive tour through a world of ritual violence and exquisite pleasure.”
The audience of approximately 70 is split into three groups – men, women and a co-ed group – and, after a ritual purification, our hands washed by beaming young maidens in long silky gowns in the lobby of the spunky ODC Theater in San Francisco’s Mission district, we are guided through a series of tableaux throughout the building. The groups occasionally overlap but do not see the same scenes, or see them from different perspectives.
Delightful and surreal moments abound. Overall, however, the experience is logistically over-engineered, and fails to create the desired tension and otherworldly atmosphere.
Textual elements also fail to impress. But the moments in which dance took on the story-telling verged on the magnificent.
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