The set is by “U.F.O (unidentified found objects).” It’s a striking jumble of cluttered clothes racks, a bed, vintage furniture and nick-knacks.
The dynamic cast is all highly physical performers in optimum shape who sensationally sing, dance and act with tremendous flair while donning a variety of flamboyantly scanty costumes.
Joey Cuellar, Alicia Dellimore, Shiloh Hodges, Johnnie “Cruise” Mercer, Benedict Nguyen, Marilyn Louis, Yuko “Uko Snowbunny” Tanaka and Monstah Black comprise the gender ambiguous kinetic ensemble.
Besides giving his fierce performance, the multidisciplinary artist Mr. Black is also unquestionably the auteur of the show, having conceived it. This vision is also supremely realized by his participation in virtually every accomplished creative aspect of it.
Black directed HYPERBOLIC! (The Last Spectacle) with Ashley Brockington and choreographed it with the collaboration of the cast on some sequences. The atmospheric video design is by him and Brockington and is edited by Wendell Cooper. Black collaborated with The Illustrious Blacks and Manchildblack for the music and appears on the recorded vocals with the cast.
Under his given name, Reginald Ellis Crump, he wrote the script and the lyrics with Derek D. Gentry.
He also designed the show’s outrageous costumes and these are a chief element of its success. Wigs including plastic black helmet Afro ones, masks that are bejeweled and of rabbits, boas, and slinky dresses are on display. Dancewear is festooned with an assembly of pairs of white underwear yielding loopy fashion creations. As the performers run up and down through the theater’s center aisle one can see the Fruit of The Loom labels.
When the audience enters the theater at Dixon Place, the cast is already on the stage, the top of which is bathed in red light. Most are sprawled out on the floor partially covered under furniture and the clothes racks. One is facing away on the bed and holding a blonde Marilyn Monroe-style wig. This tableau lasts for a while and then there is music and the show begins as the cast gets up.
A series of interconnected vignettes commences with the characters’ delivering the nonsensical dialogue in an exaggerated manner and in many cases repetitively while interacting with each other. Some behave as women or men, and some are ambiguous and all are cartoon-like. One carries around a selfie-stick.
There’s little actual plot to follow or to comprehend but it is a very entertaining sensory event. Songs, dances, video projections and cast members appearing periodically in the balcony add to the frenetic pacing and to the channeling of The Roaring 20’s.
HYPERBOLIC! (The Last Spectacle) is one of those exhilarating performance experiences that can best be enjoyed for its surface qualities rather then attempting to attach narrative significance or depth to it. It’s also a vibrant showcase for Monstah Black’s many talents.
HYPERBOLIC! (The Last Spectacle) (through July 23, 2016)
Dixon Place’s 25th Annual HOT! Festival
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.dixonplace.org
Running time: 60 minutes with no intermission