Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

There in the Light and the Darkness of the Self and of the Other
Wilma Theater / 2019 Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

The Cast
Photo by Mark Garvin
Women lounge on a hillside, basking in the warm sun with a calm intimacy so enveloping the entire audience relaxes into a deep breath. One man slices a tomato. Carefully. Thin. A chorus of actors become the anxious voices in his head, whispering urgently then scattering like spiders. In these moments visual artist Rosa Barba and Artistic Director Blanka Zizka successfully build abstract movement, sound and text into an extraordinary visceral experience. The Wilma Theater and its resident HotHouse Company are presenting this boundary-bending world premiere adaptation of Etel Adnan's epic poem There in the Light and Darkness of the Self and of the Other as part of the FringeArts 2019 Fringe Festival.

Adnan's poem is a remarkable tapestry that probes the tensions between the individual and other people, other nations, and the earth itself. Composer and music director Alex Dowling has created an eerie and bracing soundtrack for the piece. The grand stage is an enormous white half-pipe which the actors race up, slide down, delicately pull themselves across, and vigorously throw themselves against. Silvana Cardell's choreography is captivating. Vasilija Zivanic's colorful fluid costumes seem to glide along the white curve of the stage. The cast is a truly remarkable gathering of Philadelphia's most impressive talent, and it is glorious to watch them work together. These elements are each impressive on their own, but where they align, those instances are transcendent.

There are also some slow spots, too. Where the poem's meaning is difficult to understand and the actors' intentions are unclear the work becomes tedious. Given the abstract and experimental nature of There in the Light and Darkness of the Self and of the Other, pacing issues are not really surprising and they do not diminish the bright spots. With a one-hour runtime and a world of possibility, this is definitely a festival pick that should not be missed.

There in the Light and Darkness of the Self and of the Other runs through September 22, 2019, at the Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, visit or call the box office at 215-546-7824.

Krista Apple
Ross Beschler
Taysha Marie Canales
Melanye Finister
Sarah Gliko
Justin Jain
Brett Ashley Robinson
Matteo Scammell

Etel Adnan: Author
Blanka Zizka: Co-Creator
Rosa Barba: Co-Creator
Alex Dowling: Composer
Silvana Cardell: Choreographer
Vasilija Zivanic: Costume Designer