Thu Dec 13 2007
Photograph: Peter Nigrini
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
A clever stunt becomes a high-concept endurance test in Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper’s No Dice. In this monumentally bizarre performance assemblage from the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, actors wearing cheap, mismatched costumes and speaking in broad foreign accents recite meandering telephone conversations playing on their iPods, in an exaggerated, melodramatic style. For variety, the directors have their zanies break into spastic dances, shouting things like, “I am a sexy robot!” This goes on for nearly four hours. Suffice it to say, No Dice will separate the hard-core avant-gardista from the slumming playgoer. Not that there isn’t incentive to stick around for the long, strange trip. Audience members get a free ham-and-cheese or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich en route to their seats, wine is just a buck, and the actual content of the show—distilled by Copper from 100 hours of tapes—is often funny and touching. The subjects rant on a variety of urban-artist concerns such as lousy temp jobs, creative block, commercial auditions and fuzzy meditations on the meaning of life.
Liska wittily shapes this material into an epic of stylized banality, imposing performative rigor on the most minute aspects. (A series of cryptic hand gestures, you learn in the book version of the text, was derived from watching videos of disco dancing and magicians at work.) Peter Nigrini’s coolly bland set—in varying shades of calming greens—suggests both a corporate office and a children’s romper room. It’s a perfect location for a piece that combines silly playfulness and mechanized drudgery.