NYC’s P.S. 122 Puts On a Smorgasbord of Contemporary Performance
By Leslie Holleran
Witness Relocation (photo courtesy of P.S. 122)
Promotional materials for Performance Space 122’s program at Bumbershoot touted it as a “bento box” of performance bites, begging the questions: Does this program featuring dance theater by Witness Relocation and LeeSaar the Company and a radio play by Reggie Watts/Tommy Smith really deserve such a mouth-watering description? Would we really get a sampling of delectable performance?
According to my palate, sated at last Saturday evening’s performance, each piece was indeed very different from the other and all-in-all pretty tasty. Because Reggie Watts/Tommy Smith’s piece did not include dance per se, for the purpose of this review I won’t discuss it in any detail except to say “Radio Play” brings to life to an earlier era when radio was the primary source of home entertainment. Watts/Smiths’ performance focused on all-things aural, including a rendition of “Home on the Range,” and was deliciously funny.
Witness Relocation’s “The Panic Show” featured a handful of performers mocking an array of anxiety-provoking situations through dialogue and movement. Near the beginning of the piece, the performers, standing at the front of the stage in business attire, recited an exhaustive list of phobias to the audience—everything from meeting a shark (the kind with fins) to meeting a stranger for networking purposes. Both the performers’ confessional tone and the sheer number of fears they admitted produced much laughter from the audience. Later, two of the performers enacted the potentially nerve-wracking situation of fooling around with someone from a business function and then facing them again following the “frolicking.” It seemed like the only stressful situation “The Panic Show” didn’t poke fun at was stage-fright.
In LeeSaar’s “Geisha,” three different performers tried to seduce the audience. The first was a topless female dancer in jeans who struck poses in several carefully selected locations on the stage and glided geisha-like between them. These poses included an arch backward accentuating her bare breasts and a skillful leg extension high to her side. The next performer was a female singer who delivered her song in Celine Dion-esque fashion while basking in the adoration of her fans. She graciously came down from the stage to shake some of the audience’s hands. “Geisha” ended with the female dancer from earlier joined by a male dancer, also shirtless and in jeans. After she leaves the stage, he is alone on stage circling his hips or undulating his lower torso. His seduction, like the female dancers, was mostly sexual. Only the singer used just her voice to charm.