To kick off its 15th-anniversary season, Attack Theatre returned to its site-specific performance roots in Site/Re-site, at the former Questions Nightclub, in the Strip District.
Between walls painted with large question marks and hung with big mirrors, two stages dominated the visual landscape of the performance space. One, located in front of the audience, was for the dancers. The other, off to the left, was for the second of four bands that would accompany the work on alternate nights. On Fri., Sept. 17, it was Deoro, a three-piece featuring Attack music director/cellist Dave Eggar. (Chatham Baroque performs Sept. 22 and 23, and Ben Hardt and His Symphony perform Sept. 24 and 25.)
A motif of Site/Re-site's three acts was a shrilly ringing telephone whose sound permeated the club before dancer Peter Kope, in the role of a bartender at "Becca's Bar & Grill," answered it. Questions abounded in Kope's conversation with the mysterious caller who answered Kope's inquiries with more questions in the form of recorded song snippets (i.e., Tina Turner singing, "What's love got to do with it?"). The scene began a series of similarly cryptic vignettes in the dance-theater work that ended up posing more questions than it answered.
Like the choreographed magic of a Jackie Chan fight sequence, Kope and the rest of Attack's six-member troupe ducked, dove, climbed and danced on and around a bar area and staircase near the stage area in clever routines employing a ladder, an empty bottle and the ringing telephone.
The second act moved away from the opening storyline and into a series of abstract and athletic dance sequences performed by the troupe to live music by Deoro. Varying groupings of dancers ran through a range of emotions, each dance matching the mood of Deoro's penetrating chamber rock. Most striking of the dances was an angry solo by dancer Liz Chang in which she moved like a martial artist, kicking and lunging before coming to a halt to scrawl indiscernible symbols on the stage floor with one bare foot.
The final act returned the action to Becca's Bar & Grill for more quizzical telephone conversations and clever antics, such as encasing dancer Dane Toney inside the rungs of a stack of bar stools. There was also a daredevil duet by Jeff Davis and Chang in which Chang danced precariously along the outside ledge of the railing of the bar's upper level.
Site/Re-site concluded with the dancers and Deoro rocketing through the high-powered rock song "Avalanche." Loaded with great performances and a delightful sense of whimsy, the wholly entertaining dance work had both familiarity, in its vintage Attack Theatre approach and choreographic style, and newness indicative of the troupe's unique and ever-evolving creative vision.
Attack Theatre performs Site/Re-site 8 p.m. nightly Wed., Sept. 22-Sat., 25. 1400 Smallman St. (former Questions nightclub), Strip District. $15-25. 412-394-3353 or www.attacktheatre.com
- Courtesy of Jonathan Greene
- Peter Kope (left) and Dane Toney in Attack Theatre's Site/Re-site