John Jasperse Company
Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies
Posted by: John Wilmot
It’s hard not to appreciate tits and ass. I, for one, think they’re totally awesome. So it’s not a good sign that, in a show positively bursting with titillation, I had to struggle to stay awake.
Don’t get me wrong; the John Jasperse Company delivered everything you could want in a dance performance, including those bare breasts and butts. With thoroughly professional dancers, well rehearsed moves, and simple but intelligent costume and set design, I wanted to like the show. The problem was that there was just too much of it. Every sequence went on far too long. Every gesture lingered interminably, and every frozen pause stagnated. Even the music was too loud and the lights too bright. It was like a friend who keeps explaining a point, trying to make sure you “get it.” You just want to yell, “I get it! I get it! Let’s move on.”
The dance opens on a virtually empty set, dimly lit, with a black backdrop. The dancers wear glittering outfits. The theme is nightlife, the street, dark alleys, shadows and sin. The moves seem jittery and improvisational at times, or wanton and lascivious at others. That kind of material seems like a slam dunk, but, again, everything went on too long. Even when the dancers were almost naked, all I could think was, “Hurry up!”
The second act opened to an unadorned, bright white set. The dancers wore all white, looking like ladies and gentlemen at a beach resort. It all spoke of sunny wholesomeness and rich respectability. The dances here were coordinated and precise, everything in unison. But as in real life, wholesomeness and respectability quickly became tedious, even as their falsity was revealed. It was an interminably long act with little variety, or it felt that way. I leaned my head on my hand so that if I fell asleep, my head wouldn’t bob. After it was finally over and the lights went up, my companions all had watery eyes and stupefied expressions. Each of us had almost nodded off.
It’s a shame to criticize so well crafted a show, especially since the dancers clearly gave their all. But lots of practice and good intentions only go so far. The relatively uninspired choreography didn’t give the dancers much to work with, and the lack of judicious direction (like, for example, “Hurry up!”) dragged everything out far too long. Worst of all, for all the variety and scenes, there didn’t seem to be much of a point. It’s one thing to be bored for a reason, but we didn’t even have that luxury here.
For me, the performance left everything to be desired. I didn’t get to think; I didn’t get turned on, and I didn’t even get in a nap. Unfortunate, but true, this one show you can afford to miss.