Hyperzoo: History Behind Bars

Local Arts Reviews

Hyperzoo: History Behind Bars

Hangar 3375, Mueller Airport,

through May 26

Zoo Hours: 9-11pm

I don't often see something I consider to be worth the price of admission, but then I don't often see something as stimulating and entertaining as this latest Ethos presentation, Hyperzoo, subtitled "Ecoempires and MetaMenageries." You are greeted at the door by a zookeeper who escorts you into Hangar 3375 at the old Mueller Airport, where you are confronted by five "cages." You can look at them in any order you wish, but the first you encounter is "The Paradiso of Divine Words," where Nerfertiti and Montezuma, costumed in Egyptian and Aztec splendor, make nary a sound, but praise the earth and sky. In Cage Two, "The Parade of Splendid Disposal," Nero and John D. Rockefeller wallow in mud and wine and filth. In "The Holy Garden of Interrogation," you'll find Tomas de Torquemada, the First Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, and Adolph Eichmann, both busy burning human beings, among other things. In "The Majestic Zoo of Dissection," Queen Victoria carefully and deliberately does her work on a Sphinx. Finally, in "The Aquatic Menagerie of One Rococo Door," Louis XIV and a mermaid pose and float so elegantly and beautifully, it's nothing so much as a truly brilliant painting come to very literal life. Ten performers never leave their various cages for two solid hours. Spend two hours or 15 minutes. Wander about as you please. It's a zoo.

Director Chad Salvata and his artistic team -- production manager Bonnie Cullum, installation director Ann Marie Gordon, illumination director Jason Amato, movement director Bryan Green, and costume designer Kari Perkins, who provides the finest costume design I have ever laid eyes on -- have mixed theatre and painting in a way wholly new to me, juxtaposing ghastly horror with great beauty in a series of dreamy, stunning images. My neophyte status may be one of the reasons I was so deeply impressed; I had never been to an "installation" -- perhaps they're all like this. I doubt it, though. Difficult to find (exit I-35 at Airport and go south three blocks to Wilshire -- look for Christmas lights on the east side of the road), but worth every moment you'll spend finding it. What a crying shame it's only open four days, two of which are gone. Me, I'll be paying a return visit.

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Hyperzoo, Chad Salvata, Bonnie Cullum, Ann Marie Gordon, Jason Amato, Bryan Green, Kari Perkins

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