Inventive, rambling vignettes examine power of television


November 15, 1991|By J. Wynn Rousuck

What can you say about a double bill that features cavorting vampires in the first half and, in the second, a cast of dancers shaving with electric razors?

You can say that it's the latest multimedia, movement theater effort by New York's Margolis/Brown Adaptors, currently paying its third visit to the Theatre Project. You can say that it's extremely inventive. And you can say that, even though the movement comes up to the troupe's highly disciplined standard, the assorted vignettes tend to ramble.

And oh yes, you can also say that thematically, both pieces examine the power of television.

In the first, whose full title is "Decodanz: The Dilemma of Desmodus and Diphylla," Tony Brown and Kari Margolis -- the Adaptors' co-founders, co-writers, co-directors and co-choreographers -- portray a pair of amiable, romantic vampires who gain sustenance not from human blood, but from TV and movies. If you've ever wondered what Mr. and Mrs. Dracula do on a quiet night at home, here's your answer: They feed on everything from game shows to celluloid love scenes, thus acquiring the immortality of the screen.

"Koppelvision and Other Digital Deities" is longer, more fragmented and less effective. But it does contain one image that is nothing short of brilliant. The curtain parts to reveal a giant piece of black fabric stretched from the top of the back wall to the base of the stage. Sticking up through holes in the fabric are 14 heads that writhe like figures drowning in a murky black sea. But they don't just writhe, they also talk and laugh and, in one particularly comic moment, catch a communal cold.

As for the rest of the piece, it contains scenes ranging from a medieval witch trial to visions of early Christianity, as well as the aforementioned razor ritual. Interspersed between these we hear, and sometimes see, snippets of Ted Koppel's "Nightline."

Try to imagine Monty Python as an avant-garde theater company appearing on "Nightline." Depending on your point of view, the result can be seen as either a cautionary tale about the worship of media deities or as a comment on the gap between actual experience and what we see on the news. Either way, truth turns out to be stranger than journalism. Based on this piece, you'll get no argument here.

'Decodanz' and 'Koppelvision'

When: Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8 p.m.; matinees Sundays at 3 p.m. Through Nov. 24.

Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.

Tickets: $10-$15.

Call: (410) 752-8558.

** 1/2

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