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    David Tirosh as the man himself. in The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    David Tirosh as the man himself.

    In the world where *BOB* are Bush

    Brian Boyles and Luke Miller assemble a shadow government in scenic burlesque in "The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable."


    Brian Boyles and Luke Miller presented a timely political performance art work titled "The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable" at The Williamsburg Art Nexus (WAX), Friday August 27th-Sunday August 29th. Boyle and Miller's spirited work was a part of an array of activities that rounded the idyllic strength and support of liberal New Yorkers the weekend before the Republican invasion. The charged dynamic in New York, perhaps the largest since the September 11th horrors, has undoubtedly created one of the most inspiring times for liberal activists, voicing their resistance to the Republican National Convention by hosting activities including walks, die-in's, bike rides, performance, spoken word and art. "The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable" was billed as part of The Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas, a week long festival presenting over 700 artists' work at 200 + venues. A heightened political energy set the stage for a dynamic evening of performance, and Boyles and Miller met my expectations with their witty, relevant, and charged work.

    Choreography by: Brian Boyles and Luke Miller.
    Directed by: Brian Boyles and Luke Miller.
    Dancers: Julian Barnett, Dan Strauss, Antonio Rodriguez, Eric Russell, Dirty Martini, Hilary Clark, Tigger, The World Famous *BOB*, Taylor Mac, David Tirosh, Brian Boyles, Luke Miller, Stanley Love Performance Group, Nervous Cabaret.
    Sound design by: Ray Riga.
    Costumes by: David Quinn.
    Lighting design by: Mandy Ringger.
    Williamsburg Arts Nexus
    205 North 7th St.
    Aug. 27-29, 2004

    Red, white, and blue ribbons distinguish specific waiting areas in WAX's gallery prior to the performance and I am reminded of the new metal barricades created in 1995 that "were the new crowd control technology- prisoner- tested, military- approved" according to Maggie Gram of The Indypendent. These pens limit protesters freedom to move about the streets, controlled by police and strategically placed in certain parts of the city to limit protesting strength. As we filed in the waiting pen, officers in tan performed random search checks with a special light scanner on suspicious looking audience members. Glass jars holding liquids in red, white and blue were among other libations that could be bought for consumption. I buy a beer and mentally note the age-old irony that our 18-20 year old Americans wouldn't be able to purchase their poison but would be able to fight in Iraq for Operation Freedom (and how free we all feel with American and Iraqi soldiers dying every day).

    A car drives up to the front of the venue and out comes Mr. Bush played by David Tirosh, who prances up to a podium to pantomime a speech accompanied by Ray Riga's milieu of sonic fuzz. His emphatic gesticulation and animated facial expressions look overly genuine and too sophisticated to resemble Mr. Bush, but his absence of statement leaves a vast emptiness that replicates my regards toward Bush's public addresses.

    Hilary Clark and World Famous *BOB* in The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable  
    Photo by Steven Schreiber  
    Hilary Clark and World Famous *BOB*
    The "coincidence" song performed by Stanley Love Performance Group was the best-executed and most clever part of the evening. Love and two other members of this acapella ensemble point out the coin-kee-dink between the name "white house" and whom it's run by- all "old white men." After stating that our country is a beacon for diversity, the group questions, "Would it be a white house if there were any yellow, black, red, or brown people in it?" The group harmonizes about other serendipitous events such as George Jr. going back into Iraq after George Sr.'s failed attempt to "eliminate" Saddam Hussein, the Bush's relationship with the Bin Laden's and an over the top yet poignant reference to the White House as a KKK-mart. I am falling in love with Love's vivacious and energized performance and I add his last name to the list of clever coincidences presented in this song.

    The ropes are opened and the audience travels into the main performance space at WAX where a table, chairs and sculpture of Nixon's face is set for scene 2, "The Commencement of a Very Important Meeting". It is in this scene that we meet George Bush (Julian Barnett), Donald Rumsfeld (Eric Russell), Colin Powell (Antonio Rodriguez), Dick Cheney (Dan Strauss), and our MephistOrator (David Tirosh), who narrates each political figure as they leave offerings at Nixon's sculpture. The highlight of this series of tokens is when Bush fanatically stuffs money into Mr. Nixon's mouth, interspersed with feeding himself a couple of bucks. Barnett embodies Bush through his smug facial expressions, cowboy stroll, and usually perplexed mannerisms, which crescendo in scene 5 with his silly, slapstick dancing to Elyas Kahn's passionate but inaudible song.

      An undisclosed lover of Dick Cheney is washed ashore to sing her ballad of lost love with Mr. Cheney, too busy to deal with a "mass distraction" to his pointed political agenda.
    A scene from Kennebunkport commences with the fabulous likings of Miss Dirty Martini and Hilary Clark, playing Twinkles and Turquoise Bush, whom are scantily clad, rolling around in sand, and drinking Jack Daniels. Their star studded Speedo and gold chained uncle Neil Bush (Tigger), joins the ladies in their debauchery and all the time I wonder if the ladies ample breasts are going to pop out of their swimsuits. While this cabaret/ burlesque/ and absurdist non sequitur presents a momentary relief from the enraging reality of our current administration, it is not long before I am brought back to our recent heinous political activities. *BOB* are Bush (The World Famous BOB) appears with a picnic basket full of champagne, a grandiose American flag beach towel and other classy paraphernalia, flaunting high class fun. "This is an impressive crowd- the haves and have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base."

    An undisclosed lover of Dick Cheney (Taylor Mac) is washed ashore to sing her ballad of lost love with Mr. Cheney, too busy to deal with a "mass distraction" to his pointed political agenda. This 80's rock ballad, sung with fervent emotion somewhere between Tiffany meets Skid Row, presents a whimsical and infantile portrayal of this stranded lover. The superficial and over-sexualized behaviors of the party- goers in this scene depict a frightening, insincere, and immature look at our political figures intimate affairs.

    The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable  
    Photo by Steven Schreiber  
    Other sections of the work like scene 5, The Stakes is High, portray Cheney, Powell, Bush, and Rumsfeld frivolously wagering millions of dollars, embassy bombings, and rigged elections as part of a blackjack game. I am most moved by the ending section, a recitation of Amendment 1 by all the cast members who assemble onstage together for the first time. The overwhelming sense of urgency during the delivery of the finale depicts the perceived corruption of democracy and the irony of these words. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    While the plot jumps from scene to scene without connection and certain sections are unclear, "The Pet Goat: a pentagon tale" is fun, heartfelt, and intellectually stimulating. In a necessary and striking way, the voice of many exasperated New Yorkers has not only been heard but also felt through a multiplicity of events this summer.

    SEPTEMBER 9, 2004

    Reader comments on The Pet Goat: a pentagon fable:

  • wish I'd been there...   from Pam, Jan 5, 2005

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