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Flash Review 2, 4-10: Hi Everybody!
O'Connor's Grinning Biopsy of America

By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2000 Chris Dohse

I ran into Aislinn MacMaster and Marta Miller, two dancer friends, on my way to Dance Theater Workshop Saturday night. When I told them I was going to see Tere O'Connor's "Hi Everybody!", Aislinn said, "Oh, I love Greg!" and Marta said, "No, I love Greg!"

Well, step aside sisters, because now I love Greg. And Marc, and Chrysa, and Heather, and Rob, and Nancy--the whole gang (Greg Zuccolo, Marc Kenison, Chrysa Parkinson, Rob Besserer, Heather Olson and Nancy Bannon). Their gorgeous performances fit O'Connor's material like six magical glass slippers, and pack a stunning, cumulative wallop like cotton candy dipped in acid.

I was underwhelmed by O'Connor's 1998 "House," also at DTW, which seemed like a string of setups with no punchline. Maybe its constant state of anticipation left me too irritated. "Hi Everybody!" distills O'Connor's mixture of text and movement into a "theater of the obvious" with gloves removed and fangs bared. Skittering on a razor's edge of hysteria, the cast singsongs through a snaggle of vignettes that summon a reality about as cheerful as, "Hey! Every American over 30 has cancer! You can try to bury your heads in the sand but your shovel is broke!"

Topical themes like gay-bashing and our diseased healthcare system locate the text in the Y2K-USA era, but characters like Zuccolo's heartbreaking "Poetry Boy" rip universal scabs off timeless inner wounds. The piece isn't completely a talkfest; when the six dance, they reveal that O'Connor has mastered more dancemaking skills than most choreographers attempt. He fractures and reverberates phrasework with glee, even poking fun at his own bag of tricks and treats.

The three female dancers ask the three males at one point, "Do you fags have a sarcastic comment about everything?" Girls, I'm here to tell you that the answer is yes--only sometimes we keep it to ourselves. Perhaps O'Connor's stir-fry of text, movement and song hasn't yet thickened into its final form, but "Hi Everybody!"'s style-not-yet-named nuzzles the fraud of America like a grinning biopsy, leaving its audience laughing all the way to the morgue.

"Hi Everybody!" continues Thursdays through Saturdays, through April 23. For more information, call 212-924-0077.

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