'Adaptors' elevate the absurd to an art form

November 20, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

Outlandish figures that weave in bizarre rhythm across the stage mix with high-tech special effects to present the fantastical imagery of the Margolis/Brown Adaptors' movement theater creations.

Two of the New York company's unique shows -- "Decodanz: The Dilemma of Demodus and Diphylla" and "Koppelvision and Other Digital Deities" -- make up the double bill at the Theatre Project tonight through Sunday.

Absurdist in nature, the comedic works merge a spoken text with an explosion of bold movement, surrealistic props and sets, slides, music and video.

"We are concerned with how humanity interweaves with technique," said Kari Margolis in an interview at the Theatre Project last week. Also present was her husband and partner, Tony Brown.

"We are interested in the human body as a means of theatrical expression," she explained, "connecting primitive emotions with the senses."

The couple, who write and direct all the shows, use socially relevant concepts as the focus for their large, non-linear experimental works. The current shows feature a total of 16 cast members.

In "Decodanz," Brown and Margolis portray cultural vampires on a 100-year date. The bloodthirsty pair are unhappily scanning the universe for the meaning of love and immortality. (Their names -- Demodus and Diphylla -- are based on two species of South American bats).

"We are all searching for the purpose of love and romance," said Brown. "The vampires are blessed or cursed with eternal life. How can they keep romance going for another 1,000 years?"

"It is a fun metaphor for life," said Margolis. "After all, we feed on humanity. We are what we eat!"

In "Koppelvision," the two explore a mixture of ancient and modern superstitions and the powerful influence the nightly news has on the viewing public.

"We are looking to some greater mystical being to solve our problems," said Brown. "During the Gulf war, newscasters became modern deities. Ted Koppel's voice became the voice of God."

Smiling, he added, "On stage Koppel's face is the huge man in the moon."

The couple met in Paris while studying the "new mime movement" with the late master Etienne Decroux. In 1982 they established their own studios in New York, where they teach their version of the Decroux technique.

"Our comedy is not calculated" said Brown. "All our work is absurdist wit. It comes from taking everyday objects and concepts and seeing them from another perspective."

Tickets for the two Margolis/Brown Adaptors shows range from $10-$15. Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. For reservations call the Theatre Project box office at 752-8558.

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