Review: Dutch A/V
Sat Jan 8 2011
* * * (THREE STARS)
La MaMa E.T.C. (see Under the Radar 2011). By Reggie Watts and Tommy Smith. Dir. Smith. With Watts, Brendan Kiley and Caitlin McDonough-Thayer. 1hr. No intermission.
At the risk of being a total square, let me reduce Reggie Watts and Tommy Smith's latest performance-art creation to its most tangible goal: It's trying to get you high. The program says that Dutch A/V hopes to recreate the feeling of "being a flaneur in another city," but when that city is Amsterdam, Watts is regaling us with reminiscences about tripping on Robitussin and a suspiciously authentic-smelling prop passes from hand to hand—I think the sensation they're going for is less Joycean than Lebowskian.
Watts, beloved for his offhand hilariousness, his wonderful, eclectic music and his fluffy eclipse of a hairdo, sits behind a screen. On this scrim we will see handheld footage of Amsterdam, complete with Watts and his mates playing gentle pranks and chatting over coffee—as well as some ravishingly weird video work by Joby Emmons. His head seeming to float in darkness, Watts tells us his apparently autobiographical tales of goofing off as an 18-year-old in Montana, which then connect in odd, diffident ways to musical interludes— gorgeous songs Watts creates out of layering vocal loops. In one lovely moment, McDonough-Thayer appears behind the scrim, serenading a reclining Kiley on the ukelele as he gazes up at a video moon. It's a paean to things that are lazy and sweet and disorienting. In fact, it's a moment that sums up this slight production, an experience that seems to evaporate as quickly as the smoke from...well, whatever it is you're smoking.