I’ve seen one of the best shows in years tonight, and I’m not just saying that because Anna Tenta is someone I love and think is one of the coolest and kookiest people on the planet. I’ve known her two years but never seen her work, and it’s like when I saw Phillip Adams doing Endling, with all the taxidermied animals and knew he was genuinely a freak and the world was a better place for it.
The scene was a camp site, three tents, one for Fergus, one for Anna and Judith, and one for Shonach and Chamyn (and Snoopdog), Erick the dancing bear lurked, and Ivan the crash-test biker killed himself. Things got progressively stranger in a Twin Peaks who-killed-Laura-Palmer, Blue Velvet severed-ear-in-the-grass kind of way, and if there’s one person whose work it reminded me of the most, it’d be David Lynch.
The media was filling the room, so I’m sure there’ll be a few reviews to post here in the coming days, though I’m not sure if many people exactly got it beyond the kick-arse dancing. Which was kick-arse, jump up and crash down, thump on the floor and shake your bones, but never got boring in the way it ended up getting in Australia. This was for me because both Anna and Judith are seriously transfixing to watch when gravity is pulling them down, limbs floating floorward, and between the two they pretty much didn’t stop moving. It was also because their movement, that of Fergus when he joined in, the bike-crashing solo of Ivan and the bear-witch duo of Erick and Shonach was all consistent, the clear work of strong artistic direction and didn’t smack of a bunch of tasks given to various dancers and whatever resulted being used without critical editing.
The dancing and the acting/talking flowed almost seamlessly back and forth, which is again something that I’ve seen clunk like a learner driver in too many pieces, and the heart of Fuga Utopia‘s weirdness lay in the unsettling threshold between the two.
A lazy reading would be two hot chicks hit on a stupid horny camper have lots of sex and blahblahblah the difference between men and women, the battle of the sexes, I get my culture from Cosmopolitan. Which leaves the problem of the dancing bear who like to fuck the crazy woman, and too many other things.
Looking at it like a Lynchian drama of the psychedelic mundane, a somnambulistic hallucination, it suddenly becomes a determinedly solid excavation from the mind of someone who does not live in the same world as most people, whose perception of people is decidedly far from anthropomorphic. I other words, it’s unadulterated weirdness in pornographic quantities, and you’ve got to love it on Anna’s terms, or go back to watching daytime soaps.
Having raved about it enough, there were a couple of weaknesses, none of which are not immediately solvable by throwing money at it. The work was performed at Tanzhaus, which is something of a studio venue, and in that the work obviously looked like it was performed in a studio. The piece is in serious need of an awesome set, and the whole time I was watching it, I was thinking of David Bowie’s room in The Man Who Fell To Earth, which was floor to ceiling wall-to-wall super-realist photograph of a forest. Surrounding it with something like that, continuing to the floor with a carpet of photographed leaves, all hyper-saturated to the point it looks odd, then having lots of diffuse understated lighting, like the wash of sunlight through trees, I’d be sliding off my seat.
I don’t have any photos of the show but here are a couple of them all getting ready for the premiere by eating lots of chocolate.