A modernist legend’s magical love affair makes for rapturous theater going
Marc Chagall’s iconic paintings of a ghostly man—floating skyward yet anchored to earth by the hand of a woman—work as a symbolic template for the extraordinary relationship portrayed in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, about the artist and his first wife.
Having met in their youth, Chagall and Bella’s tender love affair endures as they flee the pogroms and the Russian Revolution, a journey that takes them from their hometown of Vitebsk to St. Petersburg, Moscow, rural France and finally New York.
Through it all, questions of what it means to be in love, to be an artist and to be married circulate through a swirling rush of monologue, dance and music that incorporates traditional Jewish songs with Russian folk music and original compositions by music director Ian Ross, plus a rustic set design. Director Emma Rice says, “Nothing that Marc Chagall [did] is straight-edged; it’s like a ruler didn’t exist in his world.” The result is a heady experience. “We are trying to really knock everything off-balance in the same way the lovers are off-balance,” says Rice. Feb. 23-March 11. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., B.H., 310-746-4000; thewallis.org.
Written by ELIZABETH KHURI CHANDLER.