Theater archives

Dividing By Pie


Leave it to the surrealists to try to create beauty out of seemingly haphazard nonsense. Patricia Fox and Tal Yarden, modern-day practitioners of a (let’s face it) long-dated avant-garde form, paint their whimsical unconscious visions onto three-dimensional multimedia canvases. Their latest piece, Corpus Exquisitus (Dance Theater Workshop Garage), set in a salon theater wonderland filled with puppets, video screens, and scrims, tries to dissolve the boundaries between the performing and visual arts.

Taking their title from the Parisian parlor game in which André Breton and his cronies would take turns completing a partially folded drawing, the creative duo cobble together three disparate narratives without worrying about such bourgeois concerns as coherence and meaning. The first segment features a sweet but psychologically damaged cooking-show host (played with daft zeal by Julie Atlas Muz) preparing to make an old-fashioned blueberry pie. The second revolves around the communication barrier between an American woman scientist (Muz) and a Frenchman (a puckish, rubbery-limbed Aaron Landsman), both studying the mysteries of mushrooms in a dark cave. The final episode takes place in the clinic where Jean-Martin Charcot has been conducting his world-famous experiments on hysterics.

While it may be possible to identify a broad underlying theme (the treacherous gulf between male and female psyches), the magical mise-en-scène attempts to suspend one’s rational intelligence. Not all of the stage action, of course, is equally riveting (there’s a pronounced dip in the middle), but at its best this experimental hybrid collage has an undeniable, sneaky charm.