Body Familiar
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by David Allen

Poetry in motion is the best way to describe Joe Goode’s Body Familiar now playing at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. Though the phrase is a cliché, Goode’s unique blend of drama, dance and music merge together in a living poem. The words and phrases spoken by the actors may not have the same poetic resonance of a Shakespeare play, but when subtly melded with moving images, they touch the audience with the same depth of feeling that poetry does.

Body Familiar is dancer/choreographer Goode’s first complete stab at playwriting and he brings all his dance experience to the task. “The mission for me, in the work that I’m doing, is to pierce the veil of toughness that we all have in our lives and to uncover the vulnerable center, the confused, flailing human part of us that we conceal and avoid,” says Goode. It is the revealing of this chaos in his characters that is the most interesting and touching, because we all have this at our center and do everything we can to conceal and avoid it. Some of us get so good at it that we forget it’s there. We go about our days in this perfect exterior composure. But when something happens to upset our outward balance, like the loss of a loved one, our inner chaos breaks out with a vengeance and all control is lost.

While Goode’s characters try to deal with their inner chaos verbally, they find that to achieve any success they need to express themselves physically as well, and what better way than dance?

“I don’t care how this is achieved…” Goode says. “It’s the experience, the tactile, that matters… to help us at least look at each other without so much fear and disdain.” In Body Familiar Goode seems to have tapped into the right balance of dance and drama to reveal the hidden imbalance in all of us.

For tickets or more information call (415) 441-8822 or visit

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