SUSPENDED (Brian Sanders’ JUNK): Fringe Review 2

Teddy Fatscher is featured in the VIP locker-room pre-show for SUSPENDED by Brian Sanders’ JUNK (Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Sanders’ JUNK)

Teddy Fatscher is featured in the VIP locker-room pre-show for SUSPENDED by Brian Sanders’ JUNK (Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Sanders’ JUNK)

Have you ever been caught between two conflicting emotions at the same time? Have those ambivalent feelings left you hanging, unable to decide what to think or how to act? Have you turned to your most primal impulses to figure out who you are and where you’re going? Baring body and soul, Brian Sanders’ JUNK explores the psychology and physicality of uncertainty and transition in SUSPENDED. It is an intimate performance by a dance troupe renowned for its thrilling moves and sexual daring, so be forewarned that SUSPENDED is not for the faint of heart. Sanders’ fearless choreography and semi-autobiographical concept include seemingly death-defying acrobatics, full male nudity, and audience participation (from the VIP section only, and, of course, the chosen members don’t have to get naked!). You will be simultaneously shocked and exhilarated—and that’s precisely what SUSPENDED is intended to elicit from the viewer, in full empathy with its thematic rollercoaster ride of sensation experienced by the performers through their characters.

Near-naked bodies (Sanders’ among them) flying through the air on bungee cords, men writhing in chocolate pudding on a glass-top table, dancers snapping blood-drenched locker-room towels at one another in a boxing ring, and couples simulating mechanical sex moves all suggest the nightmarish Freudian imagery from the troubled sleep of a man in psychic distress. The psycho-sexual tension is broken by touches of humor, including drumming and vocalizing genitalia, and a comical appearance by Sanders in the role of a rabbi offering the audience bits of hot dogs made of the recycled, circumcised foreskins from the brises he performs! 

A pre-production photo of the dancers of Brian Sanders’ JUNK in the VIP Inner Circle seating for SUSPENDED (Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Sanders’ JUNK)

A pre-production photo of the dancers of Brian Sanders’ JUNK in the VIP Inner Circle seating for SUSPENDED (Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Sanders’ JUNK)

Subtle lighting and discreet positions enhance the tone of mystery and beauty in the all-nude sequences, including the candlelit VIP locker-room pre-show (available for an increased ticket price) featuring the sensational Teddy Fatscher, Peter Jones, and Tommy Schimmel (whose mainstage solo on a curved length of vertically suspended phallic tubing is a highlight of the show). A selection of contemporary music, well-modulated by sound designer extraordinaire Daniel Perelstein, in his premiere collaboration with JUNK, accompanies the piece.

The check-in desk at Thursday’s VIP preview and reception had promotional postcards from another FringeArts dance offering, THE BACK DOOR, by the mysterious “Jasmine Zieroff,” which runs September 5-8 at 2037 Montrose Street. Intriguingly, that just happens to be the back-door entrance to JUNK’s space at 2040 Christian Street, and the performance is in the exact same room as JUNK’s show, and the format and choreography are almost identical to those of SUSPENDED, but using gender-reversed roles with female (Julia Higdon, Chelsea Prunty, and Kelly Trevlyn) rather than male dancers (and vice versa)—all of whom are in the outstanding ensemble of SUSPENDED. Hmmm . . . I might like to interview the elusive “Zieroff”or maybe I already have[2040 Christian St.] September 5-20, 2014. http://fringearts.com/event/suspended-12/.

Dance, Fringe Festival, Fringe reviews, Reviews - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , - 6 comments

About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.