Set designer Paul Clay's maze of hanging Plexiglas panels, papered with fragments of newsprint, define a Spartan habitat; fluorescent tubes dangle vertically at intersections. Slumped on a chair in a black suit sits David Neumann, a slightly demented Everyman, sharp--featured, but with a wild intensity in his piercing eyes that makes his good looks a little edgy. His taped voice drones an excerpt from Samuel Beckett's short prose piece Still, which Neumann also uses for his title. It describes physical sensations, while he checks them out on himself, like an alien being adjusting to its brand-new humanoid form: Move right hand. Open eyes; close.
In the cool glow of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood from a TV set placed downstage, Neumann dons the video icon's signature cardigan sweater, opens the refrigerator door (to which there's no refrigerator attacked), and snacks on Froot Loops. He buzzes someone in on the intercom, but nobody arrives. Gradually a chorus of people in dark suits begins to infiltrate his space, lurking in corners, tramping around in orderly patterns, or ambling with apparent, though unspecified, intent.
To a cacophony of TV theme songs and the ranting of a radio evangelist they add their own whisperings, whimperings, shoutings. Are they friends or strangers? Business colleagues or rivals? A jury of peers? An invading enemy? Whoever they may be, they behave like uninvited guests at his accidental party. in their midst he dances a jagged jig, like an electronic scarecrow that's shortcircuiting: angled arms poke the air, feet Skitter with break-dance energy, head bobs and twitches.
Our hetero hero rejects the sexual advances of a guy in a skirted suit but excitedly rearranges piles of papers to tidy up for a TV-watching date with a lithe lady in a sleek pantsuit. Just when he's awkwardly broken the ice and is about to make some time, several of the group horn in, crowding her out of her place beside him on the love seat. Unable to win for losing, he does another frenetic dance of desperation.
Neumann's neatly constructed abstract drama takes us for a ride through the psyche of an endearingly inept nerd oppressed by his version of the Establishment. He gets no satisfaction, and his dilemma touches a common chord.
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|Title Annotation:||P.S. 122, New York, New York|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1996|
|Previous Article:||Feathers at the Flame.|
|Next Article:||Ballet Hispanico, Joyce Theater, November 28-December 10, 1995.|