Theater archives

Rocking the Boat


Their downtown-theater savvy may win Radiohole comparisons to Richard Foreman and the Wooster Group, but the more relevant reference points might be musical. Like the Pixies, Radiohole know how to play soft and how to play loud.Fluke, an enigmatic piece of Melvilliana now at the Collapsable Hole after a debut last spring at P.S.122, showcases this particular dynamic from the start: Maggie Hoffman’s whispered weather report leads to a frenetic company jump-along to German doom rockers Rammstein, which in turn somehow becomes a skewed re-enactment of Ahab’s doubloon nailing, an early scene inMoby Dick. As long as the group members cleave to “Onward!” as their organizing principle, darting to the next piece of cultural flotsam to bob up into their collective focus, Fluke exerts a hypnotic, almost tidal pull.

The piece has its Sargasso Seas, though. When it bogs down in meta-theatrical reflection or overly goofy vaudeville irony, one can wonder how novel its territory really is. Could the disjunctive spirit and retro-techno fetishism be albatrosses, dooming Radiohole and their confreres to repeat the same story endlessly? The best moments of Fluke dispel such a question. Transforming themselves into strange blind fish with unblinking eyes, attempting to golf the white whale into submission, or simply discovering the cryptic beauty of Richard Flanagan’s novel
Gould’s Book of Fish, the performers, like Melville before them, tap momentarily into an inexhaustible imaginary wealth.