If you had told me prior to walking into the Novellus Theater last night that the world premiere of Alonzo King's Lines Ballet Triangle of the Squinches was going to be an early candidate for worst thing I've seen this year I wouldn't have believed you. After all, on Thursday night the Swede and I left at the intermission of Killing My Lobster: the Reboot and never looked back. It's all in the expectations. While mine weren't tremendously high for the comedy troupe, they were for Lines Ballet, so the disappointment runs deeper.
How bad was it? In a word- terrible! So, I know some fan of King's is going to leave some comment claiming I obviously don't know what I'm talking about- the audience loved it! And that's true- at least 80% audience was applauding enthusiastically for something, but I think it was sympathy for the dancers. At least that's what I hope it was, because the company has extremely talented dancers who worked tremendously hard at giving some life and meaning to a work that contains little of either. I respect the dancers so much I am not even going to name any of them so when they google themselves they won't find their names linked to such a horrid and insensitive review.
In King's almost largely incomprehensible notes, I believe he tried to explain what the work was about but frankly I read the notes three times and was still at a loss to understand what the hell he was saying. I turned to Penelope (who went to some pretty good schools) and asked if they made any sense to her.
"Nope," she said.
Oh well. I thought maybe it would all become clear once the show started.
The props by architect Christopher were certainly interesting- giant loom-like backdrops with white elastic strings the dancers walked through, leaned into, got tangled up in, and did this and that within the strings, all to Mickey Hart's boring, ambient music that added absolutely nothing to anything whatsoever except made me want to go to sleep or find the chill-out room.
After half an hour of this nonsense the curtain came down. I guess, one could say there was some message in there about how entangled we can become in our own lives, and how when we're falling it's good to have the support of others, but for half an hour? There were only 5 or so "acts"to this half and the second part had more than a dozen. Like what we had just witnessed, something seemed seriously out of balance.
We stood outside at intermission and talked about what people were wearing and debated whether or not we should stay for more. We decided two things: the first is that no matter how young you are, most women do not look good in these ultra-minis currently in vogue and if you have to keep tugging your skirt down you have on the wrong skirt, ladies; the second was that we would stay for the rest because it had to get better, right?
Wrong, though Penelope did think the second half marginally not-as-awful as the first. I disagree and think the whole thing was dreck. Haas's set for the second part (an hour long!) was some weird cardboard wall that resembled a set of interlocking hex wrenches, or something of that nature. There were slats where the dancers reached out from behind to whomever was moving along the front, or people lept from the top, but it was really just a bunch of people moving around, rarely with each other, and Hart's "music" gave them absolutely no queues to work from. That any of them were in synch at all is a testament to their talent because King and Hart gave them little to work with or explore in any meaningful way. At the end the dancers rolled the backdrop off to the side of the stage as if it were a tank wheel, while one wildly pirouetted his arms as if to say "NO! Stop this inevitable progress!" Good grief.
As we were leaving, we wondered why or at what people seemed to be so enthusiastic about. Maybe it's because the tickets weren't cheap and no one likes to feel like they were suckered, but this time, the emperor had no clothes. Oh, yes- and the costumes? Horrible!
When we returned home we decided to look up the reviews (now wishing we had done so ahead of buying the tickets) and they were all fairly tepid in their criticism but much kinder toward this mess than I feel it deserves. I felt sorry for the kids in the audience, who now can say to their parents with complete justification "but you took me to that awful ballet the last time and it made no sense! I don't want anymore culture- let's go to a tractor pull!"
And the kids would be right.