The Chanteuse and the Devil's Muse
In co-creators David J and Ego Plum's speculative take on the Black Dahlia murder, the silhouettes of the three musicians J on vocals and guitar, Plum on keyboards, drums and backing vocals and Ysanne Spevack on strings can be glimpsed as they perform on a scaffolding tower behind a scrim. Onto this screen are projected dreamy, surreal visuals, as well as images of the tragic Elizabeth Short. There's even a screened excerpt from the noir movie Kiss Me Deadly, which occupies a substantial chunk of the one-act's lean 50-minute running time. A conspicuously low budget means that a strobe-lit dance sequence, in which two dancers portray the severed, mutilated corpse, isn't nearly as macabre as intended (we should be but aren't horrified when the two halves separate). Best is the Butoh dance sequence brilliantly performed throughout by Vangeline. Dressed in white tulle like a demented ballerina-bride, with blackened eyes, powdered skin and a grotesque grimace, she embodies the tormented spirit of Short, whose lingering presence slowly builds to a cathartic climax. When Daniele Watts as Ms. Comfort steps up to the mic, she gives a breathtaking rendition of a torchy blues song. The narrative is weak, but the song and spectacle are worthwhile. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; thru Oct. 1. (213) 389-3856, bootlegtheater.com.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Sept. 8. Continues through Sept. 17, 2011
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