It's hard not to feel more than a little confused during Mark Dendy's semi-autobiographical dance-play Labyrinth. This is certainly due largely in part to the play's non-linear structure; frequent musical (including clever rap) interludes; characters playing roles like the protagonist's (Theseus') shadow, the still small voice and the dark companion; and Theseus' nervous breakdown, which lands him in Bellevue smack in the middle of 2012's Superstorm Sandy. It could also be argued that this confusion exists because Mr Dendy, who wrote, directed and choreographed Labyrinth, wishes his audience to feel as if they too are experiencing the doubt and utter loss of equilibrium that surely must accompany a nervous breakdown.

Stephen Donovan and Mark Dendy © Marisa @RockPaper
Stephen Donovan and Mark Dendy
© Marisa @RockPaper

It's Mr Dendy's most self-effacing moments of honesty which lend this occasionally jumbled mess real pathos. It is brave of an artist to voice doubts and feelings – actually caring what critics think, for example, or wondering if he's become a sell-out by choreographing for the Rockettes – that are certainly shared by his peers, even if they are rarely spoken of. What makes Labyrinth even more provocative is that much of the plot (if we should call it that) really happened: Mr Dendy did choreograph for the Rockettes. The next question is, of course, well, is it all true? What's made up here?

It's easy to see this venture as something cathartic and maybe even wrenchingly self-flaggellant for Mr Dendy, and so much of it is truly unique and riveting. But large parts feel too illegible, too messy, too... personal for mass sharing, as of yet. Mr Dendy is aided (and abetted) onstage by Stephen Donovan, Matthew Hardy and Heather Christian (who also composed the music), all of whom seem a little bemused as to how they got there. Ms Christian's score is lovely and of a different palette than what you might expect to find in a theater endeavor, but she can feel reminiscent of Joanna Newsom at times.

Stephen Donovan, Matthew Hardy and Heather Christian © Marisa @RockPaper
Stephen Donovan, Matthew Hardy and Heather Christian
© Marisa @RockPaper

Remarkably, Mr Dendy seems most comfortable and most believable when playing characters other than himself: Ariadne, a drug-addicted transvestite (including one tour de force moment in which she, newly high, takes a good 45 seconds to apply a simple swipe of lipstick in excruciating slow motion); his Southern grandmother; and even his bigoted, occasionally maniacal father. His Theseus feels less defined and more wooden. He has made wonderful use of choreography in his play, particularly when it seems to sneak up on the audience: While out walking the streets of Manhattan, Theseus and his shadow fight an inner battle as to who to talk to – which we see by Mr Dendy's walking in place and Mr Donovan's head and body directly behind him, connected from the waist up.

Mr Dendy's interweaving of dance and song and theater may feel too messy for truly close inspection, but it's an ambitious evening worthy of repeated viewings and discussion. Despite everything, his honest, unflinching work deserves credit for its introspection.