Absurd costumes lead to off-kilter dances that lead to wry observations about girls' lives in Monkeyhouse's "ASPIC."
By KRISTINA FELICIANO
If there were a theme song for this show (by the people who brought you last year's "Absolutely Abreast"), it would be
Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl." "ASPIC"
consists of six short dance pieces that look at
distaff issues how to flirt properly with a man,
for example with the same wry insistence as Madge's
pop song. Actually, it's beyond wry. Slyly absurd is
more like it.
Best in show is Karen Krolak's slapstick-y "What's
Next." The costumes focus on womanly assets Krolak
and Nicole Harris both wear a coral-colored rubber
glove over one breast, as if they were being
permanently groped by a large-handed janitor. Their
garb is also designed to hinder, with foil-wrapped
Slinky-shaped hats that bob and sag awkwardly and a
metal extension worn on just one leg imagine if one
limb were longer than the other and ended in a stapler
instead of a foot that keeps them struggling to
stand properly. A commentary on the tyranny of women's
Like two eager singletons at a club, Krolak and Harris
dance to a song called "Be Like You" (by David
Pavkovic), whose message is as supportive of
individuality as "The Man Show" is of women who wear
clothing. "Women are so attractive when they're off
balance," the DJ announces wistfully. There's also a
bit of female competition here, as one dancer shows off
how perfectly she's mastered movement despite her
aesthetic hindrances and the other tries hard to copy
her fluidity. A daffy and authentic piece.
Same goes for the last selection of the show,
"Ramfeezled." Again, the costume is key: Amelia O'Dowd
sports fishnet stockings, a lime-green miniskirt, and
a shirt whose front proudly declares "I'd look great"
and whose back self-abases "On your floor." O'Dowd is
another eager dancer, playfully pounding the air with
her fists to the music's punk-rock percussion (the
tune is by Ed in the Refrigerators). She's flirting,
and a voiceover gives her pointers. It's no surprise
that all of the tips are contradictory and none too
empowering: Look available but not too, act interested
but don't stare, etc. We're as exhausted and confused
as she is when she collapses at the end of the piece.
The costumes in "ASPIC" are worth a special mention.
Krolak produced all of them, with the exception of
those for "Ramfeezled" and "Clinquant," which she made
with O'Dowd. They're funny and witty and as essential
to the meaning of each piece as the choreography and
music. "Clinquant," for instance, starts with O'Dowd
glowingly in love with her boyfriend she makes eggs
in heart-shaped molds for breakfast and ends with
the demise of their relationship. The costume for this
tale of a lovelorn woman? A tangle of men's dress
shirts fashioned into a skirt, with another shirt
buttoned backward and askew as a top. Of course, the
fact that she drags herself on the floor the whole
time, as if love were so lusciously lazy-making and at
the same time debilitating, also coaxes the theme
along. But that's another story.
|AUGUST 19, 2002|
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