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Speak, Memory 

Thursday, Nov 6 2003
Photo by Steven A. Gunther

DUMB TYPE at Redcat Theater, October 28

Located in the backside of Disney Concert Hall, the Redcat is a state-of-the-art, high-ceilinged, black-walled theater dedicated to showing experimental work. The building was christened by Dumb Type, the Kyoto-based collective which, for its L.A. debut, presented MemoRandum. A narrative was achieved by the twisting of classic childhood stories to trigger memory: The opening scene involved a layered text projection and vocalization based on “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Dancers crawled onstage while projected dancers climbed the words to the top of the screen. The piece segued into an apocalyptic fashion show (a woman who looks like Peggy Moffatt on chemo is unnerving), while the soundtrack hit decibels and tones high enough to cause many audience members to cover their ears.

In a strange retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” Takao Kawaguchi used live-action handwriting, picked up on a hidden camera, to pose many questions about Jack. Later, he sketched out a hotel-room crime scene as the crime was dramatized simultaneously onstage and via four staggered time frames presented on video screens. Quirky, modern-based dance segments happened downstage and behind fleshy projection screens, which showed film and served as shadow-dancer scrims, the movement at times frantic and stylized enough to evoke Bond Girl go-go dancing. A group slow dance was hypnotically romantic, tainted by a self-destructive, co-dependent voice-over. Somehow everything seemed nutty but normal when the Furries came out, three frolicking brown bears with a fourth on vacuum duty (to clean up the aftermath of a ripped-paper formation), along with a skinny white elephant confined to a white runner, followed by a half-dozen wind-up crawling toy baby dolls.

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In MemoRandum, Dumb Type brilliantly tackles representation of our fragmented memories and saturated perceptions by using any medium necessary to piece and re-piece Humpty together again. Dumb Type’s U.S. premiere of a new piece entitled Voyage runs through Sunday, November 9.

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