Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., June 8, 2001
.com: More Than Vaporware
Zachary Scott Theatre Center
through June 10
Running Time: 2 hrs
Date: Tue, 05 June 2001 10:01:23 -0500
From: Annabelle Sanders (AnnaCinders@hotmail.com)
Subject: this show I saw
Hey Jer! I saw this show at the Zachary Scott Theatre Center the other night, called .com! It was this big tap-and-modern-dance thing, all about the Internet and the effect of the Net on business (and, of course, vice versa). It was pretty cool, IMHO. Done by Tapestry Dance Company, which is this local group that's been around, like, forever, and so you figure they're gonna be really good and -- hey -- they are. They're led by Acia Gray, this woman who's, well, she's almost legendary, you know? She was a co-founder of the company back in '89, and she's been onstage with some really Big Names like current hoofmeister Savion Glover and how-old-school-can-you-get Donald O'Connor. I mean, really! She choreographed the show with one of the other members, Nicholas Young, and she dances up an awesome storm herself, although she's usually got this Buster Keaton kinda stoneface thing going on. But then, that makes sense because you know how good *he* was, right?
And you know how tap dancing can seem kind of almost dorky at times? Because we've already seen Gregory Hines get his groove on in the movies, and there's that whole *Riverdance* thing, and so anything less than over-the-top is like, okay, let's all pretend we're back in vaudeville with proto-Shirley Temple wannabes and boater hats and Grandpa's striped bowtie and suspenders? Well, it wasn't like that. Partially because these guys are so good, but especially because of how the sound of tap dancing is so reminiscent of hacking at a keyboard. They wouldn't even have to play that up -- although they sure did, grrl, they worked that aspect like it was their own personal trademark -- and the idea would still come across.
I really liked the first part of the show, because that's when they focused on enacting the details of starting and running and losing a Net-based company. You know the way *Dilbert* can sometimes get the whole office/cyber scene down perfectly? That's what Tapestry did, and just as cleverly -- but with *dance*. And of course, it was more than just that. I mean, they worked some real depth and beauty in there, too. Like if you're gonna understand how it was like the best of *Dilbert*, you'd still have to imagine *Dilbert* as drawn by one of the Wyeths. You could imagine the characters as working their interactions -- "Macho Trio," "Chain Gang," etc. -- in meatspace or online, with the guys all testosteronely posturing and the girls all about communication and exchange of information. With the non-tap movements admitting the real passion that fuels what only later *becomes* a workplace cliché (as in the "Office Affair" section), and the definite tap numbers working because the potentially eyeball-roll-inducing tapping so effectively illustrates the staccato rhythms of a white-collar sweatshop. You know?
And remember in that Bruce Lee movie *Game of Death*, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, OMG, was one of the kung fu guys? And it wasn't just that he had really awesome moves but that he was so tall and, like, stretchy compared to the other fighters? This one dancer, D. Poet (!) Powell, had that same almost-gangly kind of grace. And this woman, Molly MacGregor, who looks exactly the way her name makes you think she might? Wow, quel style -- you can tell she doesn't spend most of *her* time in front of a puter screen! But the show's major gravity hacker was this Nicholas Young guy, no shortie himself, kicking out the jams so dreamy you could just about swoon. g>
The second half was good, too, but it got a lot more abstract, especially when interpreting the interaction of software giants like Microsoft and Napster as part of a video game. The costumes (by Buffy Manners) in that part were neat -- far more wild and colorful than anything even the New Mutants would ever wear -- and the dancing was no less impressive. But without the direct relation to the mundane details of RL, there just wasn't enough relevance for it to be more than pretty. And the earlier decent soundtrack seemed, by that point, like it was trying too hard to be the second incarnation of Fatboy Slim. I don't know who was responsible for that, particularly, because the music was attributed to Allen Robertson -- a local composing hottie, highly esteemed and all -- but it was also attributed to a few other folks. But someone, I swear, needs to have his sampling device taken away! (But that part in the first half, where the dancers were re-packaging the hardware for return, and the tape-roller noises were the percussion that drove the accompanying music? Now that was straight outta Geniusville! ROFL!)
So, anyway, just thought I'd pass that on. Like, in case Tapestry ever brings .com! through Croatia, right? Heh. Dot-com, shmot-com: I suppose the Net's still good for *something*, huh? ;)