New York

Iris Rose

The Pyramid

No one tames the Pyramid club like Iris Rose. She is famous here, and rightly. Audiences used to constant playing about sit still and watch and listen intently. As she did in her House of Jahnke, 1983, in Camden Rose has taken for her subject a news story of violent crime within the American family—the story of a woman in Camden, New Jersey, who drowned her four children in the Cooper River. Rose’s texts, at once intelligent, compassionate, and clever, frame such events within a relentless net of ambient conditions which makes them appear almost inevitable. Her people are real, but they are not masters of their fate; their reality expresses itself in their poignant interaction with the web of circumstances, their wishful thinking, fearing, hoping, hating, and finally their acting out of the dark imperative that seems somehow implicit in their situation, and which Rose brings to the surface.

Unlike House of Jahnke and 1984: The Future Repeats Itself, 1983, this was almost a solo performance. With a mostly mute assistant, Rose herself held the stage for about half an hour, singing, speaking, shouting, and crying into the microphone her own perfectly assimilated, complex, and exciting text. Music by Joshua Fried provided a pounding allover ground on which Rose played out her half-sung, half-chanted allusions to different types of popular song, from country and western to jeans commercials.

The remarkable thing about Rose’s performances is their presentation of social insight without either boring the audience or effecting a closure on its compassion by satisfyingly resolving the conflicts. This is important work.

Thomas McEvilley