Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Paul Taylor's latest opus, introduced by his dance company Tuesday night in the first of two programs which will play out the week at Lisner Auditorium, is totally bananas. But that, of course, is both its raison d'etre and its charm.
Entitled "Aphrodisiamania, A Macaronic Imbroglio After the Commedia Dell'Arte," it's a collaboration with Charles Ludlam, director of New York's Theater of the Ridiculous. Ludlam concocted the cheeky scenario. A melange of renaissance music forms the sonic background, and Gene Moore and Jennifer Tipton designed the decor and lighting, respectively.
The piece takes the form of a series of riblad skits, presented in dance and mime and garnished with lots of slapstick, the imperishable legacy of the popular stage of yore. The roster of characters is classic: a nubile virgin (Carolyn Adams); Flavio, her adoring young swain; her venal old father, Flatchio (Thomas Evert); a pair of frisky servants (Linda Kent and Christopher Gillis); Luxurio, the traveling mountebank, in yards of black cape (Elie Chaib); a snake dancer, Silvia (Victoria Uris), Luxurio's slinky sidekick; an alms-seeking sum, the Good Sister Frigid (Susan McGuire), and her acolytes, and a preposterously pint-sized, portly officer, General Havoc (Lila York).
The curtain opens to reveal a set made up of gaily colored laundry strung across the stage in roughly architectural shapes. Flatchio, it seems, prefers the General to Flavio as a match for his daughter, but before the true lovers are united, erotic havoc breaks loose upon all. Luxurio's snake-oil is an aphrodisiac and it causes no end of priapic frenzy and pelvic madness before an antidote turns up.
The piece gives Taylor's screwball dance witticisms a field day, and it made a fine foil for the evening's other works - the exquisite "images," with its haunting Minoan imagery, and the exultant "Esplanade," a choreographic glory. The company looked to be in excellent shape throughout.