City Desk

2009 Source Festival: Mash-Ups Require More From Audience Than Applause

"Heads or tales?... Peanut!"

Although "disillusionist" David London's joke-tricks seemed zany and conjured more from thin air than traditional magic, the MC's outside-of-the-box repertoire was on point considering what lay ahead. I wasn't sure what to expect from last night's premiere of Mash-Ups, Group E, at the Source, but it sure wasn't "Peanut!"

London and a number of other artists had nine months to collaborate and create the 20-minute performances. It's an unfortunate fact, since the prospect of watching the pieces take shape in real time is a pretty compelling concept. I might be wrong, but if you've met before, it's not a blind date (which is the premise of the mash-ups).

Small matter, however, for the evening's fare proved varied enough for adventurous theatergoers. London had assured us that this night would never happen again (even though Group E performances are scheduled for July 3 & 5 at 8 p.m.) and after he successfully welcomed and baffled his audience, down came the fourth wall.

The three Mash-Ups in Group E question individuality and isolation, refusing to let the audience sit back and relax. Choreographer Vincent E. Thomas carries Listening..., a monologue/film/dance piece involving Sigmund Freud, an aborigine, and a rooster's definition of "self." The jolting, joyful, and timely Unscheduled Track Maintenance combines PS24's folk-hop and the nagging hypothetical "What if?" Hallmark Dreams is a polyester cloud-coated modern dance piece by Kelly Mayfield that begins more engaging than it ends, even with the by-then-expected audience participation.

Divulging details would spoil the experience, but a word of caution to the painfully shy: Avoid the front row. You will be brought into the act. You will be made to feel uncomfortable. You will enjoy yourself. And that's the triumph of Mash-Ups; it's a refreshingly demanding blind date between the audience and the performers, more than between the performers themselves.

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