If they’re nekkid, it

If they’re nekkid, it must be alternative theater

My friend Michelle Stern has a theater company in DUMBO (the area in Brooklyn between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.) The company is called GAle GAtes et al., for the grandmother of Michelle’s partner Michael Counts. They had an opening for their new show entitled So Long Ago I Can’t Remember last night, and I plunked down a donation to go to the gala. This is the fourth or fifth show that I’ve seen Michael Counts direct. In his shows, the audience tends to move through the environment, rather than remaining stationary. Common themes are intricate soundscapes, lots of references to classical literature, things that are illuminated from inside in clever ways, increasing amounts of nudity, and incredibly cool sets that move in unexpected ways. For example, at one point in the show, the back wall of the theater falls towards the audience with a crash and a rush of wind, revealing a space three times the size behind it. Behind that is another space, and another and another. The audience keeps penetrating deeper into the space — sometimes standing in inches of sand, sometimes on a wooden bridge over water. For a play loosely based on Dante’s Inferno, it was really effective.

There’s no doubt in your mind, when you’re watching, that it’s alternative theater (here’s a review of Michael’s last show.) My experience is usually long periods of “huh?” punctuated by moments of “oh, WOW!” At three hours, that’s a lot of alternativity. Quite frankly, though, all the nudity doesn’t hurt a bit.

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