new-york

Salley May

P.S. 122

In Salley May’s recent performance, entitled Cradle Rock, 1990, she tackled two extremely taboo but unfortunately common domestic nightmares: incest and eating disorders. That she was able to make connections between these dysfunctions, and, not only prevent the audience from zoning out, but get them to laugh, testifies to the potential of May’s trademark blend of point-blank symbolism, offbeat humor, and deliberately makeshift esthetics.

The opening scene was both eerie and visually stunning. The characters first appeared bobbing up and down behind a waist-high screen like decoys in a carnival shooting gallery, lifting ragged baby-dolls over their heads. They soon tumbled out toward the audience in a symbolic birthing that established the personae of father, mother, grandmother, and six daughters (including two sets of identical twins).

Meaningful resonances occurred early in the piece when

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