No one can fault Cynthia Hopkins for lack of ambition. Her new multilayered performance piece, the second in her Accidental Trilogy, crosscuts the ’70s farewell performance of fake pop also-ran Cameron Seymour with the present-day attempts of Seymour’s daughter Mary to track her down. Hopkins doesn’t just borrow her structure from Citizen Kane; she also has Orson Welles’s propensity to wear all hats possible. Writer/composer/ singer/dancer/performer Hopkins, playing both main parts, is the dervish that Cameron Seymour hopes to become. Her energy and ferocious commitment make her a compelling performer. But her piece never lives up to its promise. The fatal flaw is the suite of purported Cameron Seymour songs that form the backbone of Must Don’t Whip ‘Um. While Hopkins and her band, Gloria Deluxe, project a blissful jam-band aura, these relatively generic songs, drifting from style to style, never jell enough to give us a visceral sense of Seymour as a musician or a person. Perhaps the idea was to show Seymour’s limitations; one “interviewee” on a video clip declares her a delusional loser. Even then, we’re stuck mostly watching a second-rate concert. While the inventive use of video and tangled narrative enlivens Mary’s quest, her story remains heavy on the thematics, like part of a super-smart thesis show.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 23, 2007