[7.1] THE SOCIETY (Jo Strømgren Kompani): Fringe review

The Society Jo Stromgren Kompani, Philly Fringe reviewThis outrageous frolic with a ridiculous premise begins in the meeting room of a quiet, conservative French coffee society. Everything is ordered and in its place. But when—horrors!—a used tea bag is found in coffee’s holy of holies, underlying tensions break out in comedic dances with intricate, bizarre steps that are even funnier when performed by three men dressed in business attire. “Dance is how Europeans show their feelings.”  Order disintegrates as further evidence points to infiltration from the East. As things get out of hand cultural sensitivity and political correctness go right down the drain. Non-stop creativity, impressively absurd precision, expressive lighting and inspired musical choices make this foolish—and maybe not-so-foolish—political fable a joy.  I would hate to have missed it.

A Norwegian touring show, THE SOCIETY premiered five years ago in Beirut and has been traveling ever since. The experienced performers have this down pat. (Bartek Kaminski, John Fjelnseth Brungot, Trond Fausa Aurvag)  Direction, script, choreography, and set design are by Jo Strømgren. I can attest to the attitude adjustment properties of the work: My theater companion, who went in ferociously grumpy, emerged light-hearted, a comedian. [Painted Bride Art Center]. September 6-8, 2013. fringearts.com/festival/2013/the-society.

Read another Phindie Fringe review of THE SOCIETY

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About the author

Kathryn Osenlund, theater and film junkie, is a former National Critics Institute fellow, NEA fellow in Arts Journalism, and member of the American Theater Critics Assn Steinberg and Osborn playwriting awards committee. A Barrymore Award nominator and professor emeritus in communications and theater, Kathryn also writes for NY-based CurtainUp.com. On twitter @theatrendorphin.