By Katarina Hybenova
The lights went off and the tones of Beach House filled the room. “No! Don’t even think about it,” I clenched my teeth to fight the tears. Happy endings always get me. Paul Rome and Roarke Menzies disappeared into darkness, and a deep inhale caused a pleasant warmth that won over the tears.
A literary performance called Calypso has been maturing slowly towards its absolutely fabulous finale at The Buswhick Starr last week. Both Paul Rome, author of the words, and Roarke Menzies, author of the music, were clearly enjoying the stage and the fruit of many months of their work. Last year in April, we saw a shorter version of Calypso on a rainy night at Storefront gallery. Despite how enjoyable and excellent it was, nothing could possibly beat the exceptional literary experience that the black box theater and the refined stories allowed for the last week at The Bushwick Starr…
It is safe to claim that the entire social scene of Bushwick made it to The Bushwick Starr on one of those nights. Calypso was either sold out or very close to selling out every night.
Paul Rome and Roarke Menzies created a unique and a very effective format to interpret a story – a reading with atmospheric music and sounds to enhance the effect of the words. Paul Rome who wrote three stories loosely connected through ‘Calypso’ marginally appearing in each of them, also read two of the stories. Penelope and Aeneas are variations on Roman-Greek mythology, and both deal with love and oscillate between mild cynicism and realization of determinism of one’s fate. This determinism, connections and interdependencies of things and events, creates a meeting point between Paul’s Ancient Greece segment and the contemporary story Tandem interpreted by Roarke Menzies.
Tandem is a story of a guy who lives in New York, goes to Columbia and lives in the East Village. The encounter with fatal love injects the Ancient Greek element into the story, which in my opinion brings Paul’s and Roarke’s reading segments together more than anything else.
Also interesting was how Roarke and Paul alternated on the stage reading parts of the stories. I found it really refreshing; my brain tends to focus better on visual information than on spoken word. This alternating also gave the viewer an opportunity to compare both interpretations. Endearingly humoring his own characters, Paul Rome played the role of the narrator. But Roarke was telling his story. Naturally the story was fictional, but Paul wrote it for Roarke, and Roarke was really believable. Listening to Roarke felt like a game with reality. I couldn’t help but wonder which portion of the story was still fiction, and which part was reality.
The music created by Roarke Menzies placed the viewer exactly where the authors wanted her to be: deeply immersed in the story.
Calypso provided for a colorful adventure of a three-dimensional narrative, and all it took were two men on a stage to create the magic. That’s art.
More images from Calypso on our Facebook page.