starring Yuri Lane
written by Rachel Havrelock,
directed by Rachel Havrelock
and John Wilson
At COLLABORATION, Suite #336
in the Flat Iron Arts Building
1579 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, Illinois
SOUNDS AND MOVES WITH A BEAT
Yuri Lane carries the description of a human beatbox harmonica virtuoso…and that’s not all! He is a wonderful energetic box of talent with acting ability and a myriad of moves and sounds. One marvels that one human voice can create so many different sounds. Yuri has perfected his craft over the years to a masterful degree, and his video went viral on YouTube with 17 million of hits. His one-man fifty-five minute show presented by “COLLABORATION” highlights Yuri and the current phenomena of the technology explosion for communication, and how it proceeds to change behaviors.
Rachel Hvrelock wrote the script for MeTube along with other shows for her husband, Yuri. She also directs MeTube with John Wilson and is an Associate Professor of English and Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. John works as director, scenic designer, actor and teacher in Chicago.
The major focus of the narrative for MeTube concerns Yuri’s wants and needs, especially for money, along with some Yuri Lane branding. At the beginning of the show you are encouraged to pull out your cell phones and cameras to video and photograph during the show and “share it with the world.” With very little set support except for a make shift podium, a computer and an occasional large screen where Yuri dialogues with his father and his own ego, he tells the story of his rise to celebrity status on YouTube. Other characters and situations are mimed along his journey.
Yuri presents a fascinating sustained collection of sounds and movements with brief dancing that in a way parallels some modern composers, who bring unusual sounds into the concert hall without much melody.
Perhaps, Yuri’s best known talent is his beatbox with harmonica as shown on his promotional pieces, but he only plays the harmonic for two songs. At the end of his performance, he had a brief Q&A where he said he would like to “bring blues and the harmonica back”. One wonders why he didn’t include more of both in his show. His sustained intensity of sounds and movements fascinates, but cannot sustain a whole show. It almost tires the person watching as it goes along needing more quiet moments of relief. The script emphasizes Yuri’s troubles in the current recession…not a particularly entertaining topic for the audience.
The icing on the cake, or rather the evening, was a jam session with an intern from the previous summer with “Collaboration” named Zak. It appeared that Yuri and Zak on flute had not met before, but they did a hot improvisational beatbox jam of only one piece that raised the roof with the half audience that stayed. Those who left missed the best part of the evening.
Yuri fascinates with great rhythm, but could reach a wider audience by including Zak…and/or more of his own music. In addition, less about himself, and story telling with other messages could help the audience sustain interest and relate more to his natural talent. For example, no one can deny that sidewalks and public transportation look differently today with most everyone’s nose pointed downward toward their ipods. Finally, Yuri’s funny sounds with some physical comedy might raise the humor level to add variety and interest to the whole show.
If you have enjoyed Yuri Lane on YouTube, you will probably enjoy seeing him in this live performance. If not, you might consider going to experience beatbox and hear a definite talent who is more than ready to burst onto a larger scene.
Date Reviewed March 17, 2012
Runs March 16 – April 8 – 55 minutes with no intermission
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets – $15-$20 at www.COLLABORATION.org