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Flash Review 2, 10-2: Avant-Garde-Arama
Sending up the Genre at P.S. 122

By Ursula Eagly
Copyright 2000 Ursula Eagly

Irony is easiest to swallow when it's good-humored instead of jaded and world-weary. The powerful literary device was in good hands this weekend at P.S. 122's Avant-Garde-Arama-Thon -- a variety show hosted by the New Wondertwins that both poked fun at and reveled in its genre. The buxom blonde Rebecca Finnegan and catsuited Susan Blackwell hammed it up with a savvy style that was part 1950s musical, part Sally Struthers infomercial, and part Ed Sullivan. For their more demanding musical numbers, the twins called out an adorable trio of Star Trek-suited men called the Sparklevision Dancers. To the tunes of the Sparklevision Orchestra, the group served up Busby Berkeley dance numbers, punctuated with cries of "Call 1-800-AVANTGA! Operators are standing by!"

Saturday's show featured six performers, from rock stars to tap dancers to actors. The Wondertwins had viewers guzzling Budweiser from the Arama-Thon bar and, most importantly, kept people from taking art too seriously.

Singer/songwriter Bree Sharp, returning from a stint opening for Duran Duran, charmed the house with her beautiful voice and painfully adorable stage presence. Her lyrics included great rock 'n' roll metaphors ("Yesterday is behind me like a loaded gun"). Her 1999 album "A Cheap and Evil Girl" is available on Trauma Records.

There were acts that were more what one would expect from a P.S. 122 evening. Self-described digi-theater artist Galinsky (see the artist's web site) performed an excerpt from "The Bench," an evening-length, one-person show that will run at The Red Room on 85 East 4th Street in October and November. Saturday's sneak preview consisted of conversations between homeless men. In a mesmerizing feat of acting, Galinsky used distinct voices and mannerisms for each one.

Another excellent solo excerpt was performed by Antonio Sacre, whose "Eleven Dollar Prophet" will be published in November in the anthology "Plays from the New York International Fringe Festival." Accompanied by guitar and organ music, Sacre raised questions about his Catholic upbringing and led his audience through a logic-bending interpretation of the Bible. Sacre argued that he was God by drawing parallels between the performer's position in the theater and God's position in the universe. Although he goes on to debunk this claim in the evening-length piece, his pleas to "Practice awareness right here, now!" are advice well-taken in the theater as in life.

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