Acrobatic 'Stitch' at Ashby Stage Awes With Lyrical Physical Ability

Photo: Laura Stokes and Cohdi Harrell use mime, acrobatics, aerial silk and contortion to create the poetic
John Cornicello/Courtesy
Laura Stokes and Cohdi Harrell use mime, acrobatics, aerial silk and contortion to create the poetic "Stitch."

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Rarely does a live performance make you laugh out loud, awe you with spectacle, and move you to tears, but local production "Stitch" does just that. Cohdi Harrell and Laura Stokes are Ricochet, the project name of the DIY two-some. The duo wrote, choreographed, directed, coordinated music for and performed "Stitch" entirely themselves. The piece seamlessly combines comic mime, simple story telling, body contortions, and trapeze-like feats. The result is indescribably breathtaking.

A silent story of boy meets girl begins to unfold as a clumsy Stokes, and later Harrell, enter the stage. The characters' curiosity is akin to the audience's. The two, simply dressed in white, resemble wobbly dolls with wild hair. They prance around the floor innocent and coy. The feigned cautiousness is playful and fun, a sharp contrast to the astonishing talent Stokes and Harrell actually have. At one point Harrell corrects his foot in a reprimanding way, as if it has a mind of its own. And Stokes looks to the crowd after every move for signs of approval.

Harrell and Stokes make amazing use of minimal props and cute gestures. The stage is set with suspended long white sheets, a swing and a vintage looking trunk. Harrell and Stokes take turns revolving around the three pieces. Harrell hangs from swing by only his neck and does somersaults in stilts. Stokes walks around on the tops of her feet and pops in and out of the trunk contorted into a pretzel, playing peek-a-boo with her toes on her face.

The two even incorporate synchronized splits during Harrell's stilts act. Out of the trunk comes an adorable little white umbrella that Stokes manipulates as she rolls around the stage. But the show begins and ends on the sheets, undoubtedly the most impressive acts. Stokes's first appearance is as she climbs her way up the long white strips, twisting and thrashing like an exacerbated child throwing a tantrum and fighting the sheets.

These "poetic acrobatics" showcase the ethereal and lyrical abilities of Ricochet's choreography. The cinematic compilation of music is perfectly paired with the routines. It guides the pieces, complimenting the sentiment, not falsely conjuring it. The sweet story of the coy couple gracefully evolves into an emotionally climatic aerial dance in the suspended sheets.

The key transition is a touching moment with Harrell on the ground and Stokes on the swing when he hands her the closed umbrella and she opens it to release gold glitter that sprinkles down onto their two blissful faces. There they smile, basking in the gratitude of one another. Still scattering glitter from his hair, Harrell climbs the sheets and pulls Stokes up to join him. They toss and turn, intertwining themselves in each other and the sheets. The two become one indecipherable, inseparable cluster of white cloth and flesh, heaving and spinning in the air.

The incredible acrobatics recede into the background as the beauty and intimacy of the two together in the sheets is all powerful, rendering the crowd speechless and awestruck. The weightless yet inextricably solidified form of the couple cascading down from the ceiling exudes something so deeply human but simultaneously metaphysical, it resurrects faith in a truly transcendental connectivity. The mere 10 minutes of the routine feel like a lifetime and capture the essence of making love unlike any Hollywood film, Grammy award-winning song or classical poem.

"Stitch" is an experience almost too visceral for words. The subtlety and joyfulness of the story paired with Harrell and Stokes's jaw-dropping physical abilities create a unique, compelling and inspiring piece of art that leaves you feeling touched and privileged to have witnessed it.


Get tangled up in the sheets with Kalesa at [email protected]

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