« November 2008 | Main | March 2009 »

January 2009 Archives

January 20, 2009

The Judgment of Paris, Performed by Company XIV (Duo Theatre, New York - Choreographed, Directed, and Conceived by Austin McCormick. January 9 - 31, 2009.)

Austin McCormick, the founder of Company XIV, has chosen to re-tell the story of how the Trojan prince Paris gained access to, and then the body of, Helen of Sparta, wife of Menelaus (thus kicking off the Trojan War and Homer's career as a poet) by setting it on the bodies (both zaftig and slender) of blonde-wigged, corseted cancan dancers (one of whom is a tall thin man in drag [?]) led by a Johnny Deppish host/narrator/sometime player in the action. Why he does any of this is not clear; what doing this adds to a fable about desire and destruction is also not clear. What is clear is that his dancers can do a mean cancan, including the skirt-flipping, crotch- and derriere-peeping, and spirited whooping -- though this does get old quickly, as do the attempts of the dancers to come off as bawdy and salacious, which cause more embarrassment than seduction. Buried in all of this Baz Lurhmann-styled "Moulin Rouge" hoopla is a commentary about the (ab)use of women by both men (Paris, Menelaus) and women (Aphrodite as a bordello madam selling off the disgraced Helena to the highest bidder), as well as something about the horrible exhilaration of war, but these only barely manage to break through the collaged and pastiched surface that McCormick trowels onto the original story. Leigh Allen's lighting design manages to hold its own against the production's busy-ness, as do Olivera Gajic's costumes, but the sound design by McCormick is the aural equivalent of his visual mulligan stew, bumping Cole Porter up against Arvo Pärt, Lionel Newman against Benjamin Britten, without anything artistically compelling coming out of the collision. I can applaud McCormick's desire to applique all these various elements onto the founding myth in an attempt to find a new way to refresh an old story, but the old story gets lost as McCormick uses its meat and bones to structure the production and forgets to work in the spice and flavor of its cautionary message. The Judgment of Paris may be, as one review put it, "a rousing spectacle," but, in the end, unfortunately, that's all it is.

Michael Bettencourt

About January 2009

This page contains all entries posted to QREVIEWS in January 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

To POST a New Article
Click Here