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Capital Fringe Festival

Weerd Sisters Productions' 'Crashing Home'
Artistic direction and choreography by Diana Tokaji

by Carmel Morgan

July 26, 2008 - The Forum at the Harman Center for the Arts, Washington, DC

Weerd Sisters Productions, co-founded by Josephine Nicholson and Diana Tokaji in 2006, won the audience’s “Pick of the Fringe” award in 2007, and they won the award again this year in the “experimental” category.  This year’s Weerd Sisters’ effort, “Crashing Home,” combined dance, music, spoken word, and video. 

The production introduced the songwriting talent of Annie Johnstone, whose title song “Crashing Home” opened the performance.  Johnstone sang, joined by musicians Ariel Francis (guitar), David Jernigan (bass), and Mathias Rucht (drums).   Johnstone’s voice jumped naturally from high to low.  Her music and words were pleasing, relaxing, and organic.  In “Everything You Love Is You,” Johnstone paired with soprano Chinwe Enu and Ariel Francis on guitar.  This song contained shades of syrupy pop, but its melody was nonetheless likeably feel-good sweet.         

“Poem of Trust, Poem of Fearless” followed Johnstone’s first song.  Diana Tokaji walked onto the stage in a bright red dress and glittering tiara.  She had one shoe held tightly to her ear like a cell phone.  Absent one shoe, the comical diva/poetess hobbled along. “It’s awkward,” she said, and it was.  Tokaji recited a heart-felt poem about an ill-prepared woman in a boat.  In the second part of this piece, dancer Margaret Riddle, vocalist Enu, and a chorus of crickets joined Tokaji.  Tokaji and Riddle performed a Japanese-inspired fan dance, and Enu reflected on crickets, singing a triumphant operatic tune. 

The final and longest piece was “The Letting.”  Much of “The Letting” revolved around the “relentless bark” of a tree.  Tokaji contributed movement and text, while Diann Marshall read the text with her powerful voice.  Johnstone sang an original song, “And Cry Too.”  Jernigan, on bass, and Rucht, on drums (and on a wooden box – a creative, percussive delight), added music.  Christopher Anderson supplied film.  He captured shots of the dancers and musicians, the moon, trees, and rain, and also the performers outdoors among trees and rain.  A little too much happened, however, to appreciate “The Letting” as a singular artistic work.  With so much to demand one’s attention, more editing might have been useful.   

Overall, the Weerd Sisters offered refreshing and enjoyable entertainment.  The highly polished performers delivered a performance deserving of their audience recognition award.  One wishes more artists would open their hearts and minds and collaborate with fellow artists in this way.

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