Live Log 2023: In Our Daughter's Eyes at Prototype

Pictured above: Nathan Gunn (4th from left) and the instrumentalists of In Our Daughter’s Eyes soak up our ovation at the Prototype 10th Anniversary Festival while offering their own to composer Du Yun, who provided stellar music for this brave and intricately staged monodrama about the complexities of manhood and parenthood.
Nathan Gunn reaching through the "ice" in a nightmare sequence from In Our Daughter's Eyes. Photo: Maria Baranova

In a humorous scene, Gunn becomes overwhelmed by the food cravings of his pregnant wife. Photo by Maria Baranova.

While there was a mechanical nature to some of the dramaturgy, that quality fit with the sheer pleasure of watching Gunn, who also co-created the piece, take things apart and put them back together or otherwise interact with the clever and finely wrought stage set and props. The persona he was playing was that of a man on the brink of fatherhood who hasn’t quite grown up himself. As a parent, I had concerns about his solipsism, as well as the other character flaws he freely, if agonizingly, admits to. Just as my doubts were growing deeper, the story took a turn that threw everything into sharp relief and led to a deeply moving conclusion.

Gunn goes on a bender after some bad news. Photo by Maria Baranova

Gunn in the final scene of In Our Daughter's Eyes. Photo by Maria Baranova

The vocal line had elements of sprechstimme, never resolving into a real melody, which lent a conversational air to Gunn’s engaged performance. Du Yun’s music was inventively scored, with prominent electric guitar, both atmospheric and driving, electronics, and booming percussion (a notice at the ticket table warned that “it will get loud” and ear plugs were offered), alongside the more conventional chamber music instruments. In her own highly distinctive way, she underscored and expanded the emotional landscape very effectively and I can imagine the music standing on its own very well.

Well worth a visit to Baruch Performing Arts Center and their very new and well-equipped Nagelberg Theatre to see the East Coast premiere of the show, which has dates through January 15th. Visit the Prototype Festival for more information.

The libretto was by Michael McQuilken, who also directed, and the musicians included: Kamna Gupta, Conductor; Aakash Mittal, Clarinets/Saxophones; Micah Killion, Trumpet; Shayna Dunkelman, Percussion/Drumset/Electronics; Nadav Lev, Electric Guitar/Electric Bass; Pauline Kim, Violin; and Chris Gross, Cello.

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