Tonya Lockyer is Consumed Mar 31, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

Two years ago this weekend, toward the end of Mark Haim’s  “The Goldberg Variations, ” Tonya Lockyer sat in a cone of light on the Mainstage at On the Boards and seemed to channel the very soul of the darkest, most spiritual variation in Bach’s sublime work. I still treasure the beauty and power of Lockyer’s performances that weekend. I knew then that I’d want to see anything she created.

This weekend, in the Studio Theater at On the Boards, Lockyer showed us glimpses of the ways she has been  “consumed ” by her art: Possessed and enraptured by it, certainly; but also drained and nearly destroyed by it. She showed us the child who loved to dance and who seemingly had to dance. She showed us the gifted professional, proficient in every style, who could find inspiration in the videotaped movements of unsuspecting strangers. And she showed us the despairing mature artist who believed that she had nothing to lose and who was sometimes tempted to jump to her death, like the heroine of  “The Red Shoes. ” Lockyer’s performance was again beautiful and powerful, and the images she created were resonant and multilayered. I so wanted to love this work! I wanted to watch its well-crafted parts merge into a satisfying whole. I especially wanted the entrance of the children—young Tonya reborn—to create some profound resolution. But those things didn’t quite happen for me this weekend. Not quite. Not yet.

I suspect that Lockyer is not close to being finished with this material. Perhaps some of the emotions it elicits are still too painful for her to endure. Perhaps a unifying structure for these autobiographical meditations has not yet become clear. The Studio Theater is often a showplace for works in progress, and that is what  “Consumed ” ultimately seemed to be: an exceptional work in progress, by an artist of remarkable courage and skill. Lockyer is consumed by her art, but I believe that she has not yet consummated this work of art. I’m eager to see what she will do next.

- Anne