by Paula Citron
Denise Clarke’s one-woman dance theatre called Sign Language is all things wonderful.
Calgary-based Clarke is 50, and considering the age of her body, her agile physicality is absolutely astounding. The subtitle of Sign Language is “a physical conversation”. She begins with a verbal monologue accompanied by detailed gestures, but the bulk of the piece is performed in silence with only her body doing the talking.
Clarke’s monologue introduces us to a Little Mary Sunshine who assures us that she is healthy, happy and productive. The character profile is then given over to her body language, and Clarke uses physicality to take us deep into the psyche of her not so cheerful character.
The music is inspired. While the melancholy nature of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Miserere underscores the melancholy of the character, Clarke keeps us laughing.
The very provocative and moving Sign Language is a run don’t walk.
Sign Language continues until Oct. 6.
From the Young Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.