The cool thing about Northwest New Works, On the Boards' two-week showcase of locally crafted performance art, is that despite being a 24-years-running...

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The cool thing about Northwest New Works, On the Boards’ two-week showcase of locally crafted performance art, is that despite being a 24-years-running annual event, it retains its festival vibe. Performances feel more fledgling than finished, more promising than packaged. As with all festivals, there are things you certainly could’ve lived without seeing, but there also exists a genuine atmosphere of possibility. NWNW still feels like a place where you might be witnessing the next big thing.

Highlights from the first weekend included the boyish appeal of Portland-based monologist Joe Von Appen, who lunged and leaped across the stage in pursuit of himself. In the process he offered the useful tip that if you are leaving a disastrous phone message and you never hang up, the recipient will never hear it.

Review

June 8-17, On the Boards

Seattleite Erin Jorgensen cast a spell over the audience with mesmerizing marimbas and a childhood story about farmlands afire. Also compelling were the antics of Implied Violence, who combined shattered cake plates, an armada of windup toys, and a pie in the face — what your company picnic might look like if organized by Samuel Beckett.

But the blow-me-away experience came from Portland dance company tEETh, whose stunningly original piece “Normal and Happy” was decidedly neither. Two dancers in harsh strips of white latex writhed, battled, and birthed each other; a quad team caked in rubberized scrambled eggs swam in synchrony; a taxidermied deer-head waif watched from the corner — all fantastic and really, really scary.

The second weekend shimmered with expanses of beauty and comedy throughout, kicked off by the Liminal Performance Group’s lovely exploration of theories of love via science, poetry, opera and flipcharts. Also: choreographer Paige Barnes put her whole hand in her mouth, and Hand2Mouth Theatre successfully served up the three Ps (parody, pie eating, and patriotism-gone-wild).

The festival was brought to a close by the always-appealing local performance-art trio SuttonBeresCuller (with a cameo performance by the truly awesome Seattle band “Awesome”). The group brought the age-old story of regrets-I’ve-had-a-few to cacophonous life.

brangiendavis@yahoo.com