Democracy in America
Wed Apr 9 2008
Photograph: Justin Bernhaut
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Forget Tocqueville: The best description of our democratic society is actually eBay—legislation for the highest bidder. But sheesh, that’s sort of bleak. So Annie Dorsen has focused on the cheerful side of that dollars-equals-doings equation. For four months, Dorsen (who also directed Passing Strange) put every aspect of her production up for sale online—even the color of her performers’ underwear. Now, on a tiny stage, under an LED crawl of purchased shout-outs, Tony Torn, Okwui Okpokwasili and Philippa Kaye cycle through the merry chaos.
The program tells us that Martin W.’s ad for Joyce Soho (“see new dance!”) set him back a Franklin, but the result of all this financial transparency is far from an indictment of our marketplace. Instead, it’s warmly reassuring: What a lot of creative and silly things people will pay for! How easy it is to sit through an arbitrary collection of microvignettes! The lid, though, stays firmly on. Torn persuades an audience member to strip—shots of Cuervo are involved—but lets him sneak away once he gets to the interesting bits. (I assume Nito C. did not pay $175 to see a guy take off his socks.) Shock isn’t part of Dorsen’s vision. The charming performers skip through it all as postmodern vaudeville; Okpokwasili proves that she can read a Staples catalog and still be interesting. With a glass of wine, I could have sat through another 45 minutes of commissioned stunts. I might even have paid.