Saturday, January 08, 2011

THEATER: Your brother. Remember?

Photo/Nancy Geeroms
"Manipulation is acting in a nutshell," says Zachary Oberzan, speaking as John Claude van Damme, reciting the words of his brother Gator Oberzan, but Your brother. Remember? shows quite the opposite. Yes, Oberzan has edited footage of his and Gator's 1989 recreation of Kickboxer (and, less effectively, The Faces of Death) along with their 2009 recreation of that recreation, but what it shows is a naturalism between the moments, the unforced and true acting of living life. Moreover, by placing himself on stage and including an adaptation of van Damme's climactic (and very meta) speech in JCVD (2008), Oberzan turns his documentary into the fodder for an live, existential work, a type of Krapp's Last Tape. The context gets blurry at times, but one can't fault Oberzan for being personal, or for lingering on happy moments, turning them from impromptu observations into carefully polished and reproduced exercises (similar, in many ways, to the theater-of-the-everyday Oberzan has done with his collective, Nature Theater of Oklahoma). Much has happened in the last twenty years -- depression, drug addiction, prison, but also growth, success, happiness -- and yet, much is still the same. Remember?

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