Flash Review 2, 4-23: We're Not in Kansas Anymore
Post-Guerrilla Girl Wizardry from Gagne & Crew
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2002 Chris Dohse
NEW YORK -- A county fair atmosphere pervaded P.S. 122 Thursday night for Tanya Gagne's "After, Kansas." Plastic flowers and astroturf glittered in a premature heat wave. A bewildering parade of retro influences were sifted through multiple performance traditions as an almost all-female cast (featuring the dazzling BBW burlesque of Linda "Dirty" Martini and Meryl "Lady Finger") danced, sang, tapped, stripped, dangled and twirled in a paean to the television age.
At least I guess that's what they were doing. Content took a back seat to exaggerated performances and manic style as the feathered head dresses of Busby Berkeley met the fey, sick smiles of Jack Smith. The
we-don't-give-a-fuck shenanigans might have been taking place at the Pyramid circa 1983, if Avenue A was the Vegas strip, and had the production values of the Robin Byrd show. It wasn't clear if Gagne loves TV or hates it, but I couldn't stop watching her skewing it.
The opening and closing numbers were pretty marvelous. These miniature girlie revues -- one a la Sally Rand, the other owing much to Devo -- bookended a succession of skits, interrupted by excruciating scene changes. Four outlandishly dressed minxes (costumed by Seana Gordon), each accompanied by a small television, were eventually introduced. Each would dance their television-inspired romance. One became a cat burglar, one a rock star. Scott Heron, the lone male, looking eerily Republican, watched as Martini and Finger intermittently wowed with strip tease. A cool trapeze solo, a video-projected telenovela, 1950s bachelor pad music, a game show, circus acrobatics and cheerleading routines completed the twisted, post-Guerrilla Girl, gender dysphoric pastiche. I'm not sure what I enjoyed the most. Maybe it was the drill team precision march to Styx's "Come Sail Away" . . . the
plastic dinosaur who stood in for Toto in a brief "Wizard of Oz" sendup . . . No -- call me old-fashioned -- I'm sure it was the lavender polyester leotard crawling up Heron's butt crack.