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Flash Review 1, 1-16: Triple-D Threat
Stories and Schtick from (D) Gordon, (D) Dorfman, and (D) Froot

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2002 Maura Nguyen Donohue

NEW YORK -- I hope that in the midst of all the APAP showings many of you found time to see either of the 3Ds this weekend. David Gordon and David Dorfman/Dan Froot presented extremely well-crafted moments of inspiration and insight during NYC's busiest performance weekend of the year. The self has long proven one of the best feeding grounds for creative inspiration. I know I've told comp students to make work from what they know best. And, though some may know themselves better than others it's always good starting ground. When such fodder is in the hands of veteran performers and artisans like David, David and Dan you've got a guaranteed weekend of skillful, intelligent and entertaining art. Though Dorfman and Froot may approach their analysis of the inner life of a performer in "Schtuck," at the Joyce as part of the Altogether Different festival, with a vaudevillian sense of humor the work is no less insightful than Gordon's "Private Lives of Dancers" at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church.

With "The Private Lives of Dancers, " playing through Sunday, Gordon invites us into an interpersonal telephone game. The exquisite Karen Graham shares with another dancer that she might be pregnant and that her boyfriend has subsequently proposed to her. The transformation of this news, as it is passed along through a series of duets between the dancers, is a funny and supremely crafted act of subtly subversive pacing. By the end of the sequence Gordon and Valda Setterfield, Gordon's wife, believe that Graham is pregnant, getting married and about to quit dancing. We see the misinformation grapevine hard at work. We also get brief glimpses into the thin line between compassionate peer and competitive dancers as the other women begin aiming for her seemingly soon-to-be-vacated part in The New Work.

The grapevine sequence closes the first half of the work, for which Gordon has condensed and fictionalized a rehearsal process. The performances were perfectly on point, with the dancers wittily sparring verbally while deftly making their way through various phrases from The New Work. The tight back and forth between the dancers and their stage manager is pleasing even when obviously well rehearsed. The actor with me wished for more room for true line drops but I enjoyed the musicality of the 'mistakes.' Gordon and Setterfield open and close the first half of the work with a conversation brilliant in it's simplicity. Gordon's entire dialogue consists of "yes", "no" and "okay." But Setterfield is scripted so that the conversation extends into a performative wonderland of timing and delivery. The New Work, set to Michael Gordon's relentless score, surges and evolves like the passage of time. Gordon circles the dancers creating a visual marker for the overall movement of the work. Tadej Brdnick, Tricia Brouk, Scott Cunningham and Maria de Lourdes Davila round out the company with dancing as tightly executed as their earlier banter.

Dorfman and Froot's "Schtuck," directed and designed by Dan Hurlin, is a different view of a similar inner space. It is another public look at some of the mechanics of performance. But while Gordon allowed us a glimpse into a process of sorts, Dorfman/Froot have created a metaphorical universe that reveals the tricks and tribulations of a couple of compulsively addicted performers. The stage is literally their world; if a hand even strays into the wings they begin screaming in shock. That is until Dorfman, in hot pursuit of the enormous escaping center stage mark, tears off stage right leaving Froot alone and in hysterics.

"Schtuck" is Dorfman and Froot's fourth collaboration and first evening-length work. Their personal friendship and collaborative history proves to be a veritable goldmine of inspiration. Both are incredibly comfortable and accessible performers capable of easily disarming the audience as they deftly smash through the fourth wall -- with Dorfman even joining us to view "the show." The playful, vaudevillian tone of the work, complete with projected marquee of "The David and Dan Show," is colorful wrapping paper for what actually becomes a deconstruction of the notion of entertainment. The enormous center stage mark is extremely important in this universe because it's where one needs to stand in order to be the center of attention, which is top priority for any performer.

Dorfman and Froot have the kind of expert comedic timing that inspires me to imagine the "D&D Show" as being, in truth, a psychic channeling of Donald O'Connor and Danny Kaye. They perform with awe-inspiring ease and zest and develop an old-school kind of rapport with the audience. And although, because it is comedy, it appears quite often to be a light work, broken up into sections and gags, the cumulative work feels like a virtuosic tour-de-force from these two. The energy, focus and skill required to pull off an evening-length duet such as this is obvious to any performer in the house. Which made the experience thoroughly satisfying. It's funny, thoughtful, challenging and in odd moments quite profound.

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