A cross-cultural ceremony of suffering, “Tempest: Without a Body” keeps returning to images of a fallen angel helplessly mourning the destruction of the Pacific.
Created by Samoan director and choreographer Lemi Ponifasio for his New Zealand company MAU, the hallucinatory 90-minute production arrived as a REDCAT presentation Saturday at the Million Dollar Theater. This antique downtown movie palace is about the size of the Ahmanson, but has problematic sight lines for a staging with abundant floor action.
The appearances and screams of Frances Chan, as the angel, punctuated the plotless, nonlinear work. At first she stood beneath an enormous hanging panel that resembled textured metal or drywall, and when, later on, she held up a hand dripping with blood, the whole panel became slowly stained in crimson.
Other recurring figures included Ioane Papalii -- his writhing torso isolated by one of the spectacular lighting effects designed by Helen Todd -- and Charles Koroneho, a tattooed ambassador of Maori tradition both in a solo derived from fearsome haka rituals and in a blistering speech remembering how Christians “despoiled the land, raped our women and children and murdered our ancestors.”