“We’ll fuck up a lot, that’s just the way it is,” said the evening’s MC/entertainer, Sxip Shirey, adding that everyone in the crowd should “feel free to fart.”
“Proof positive, once and for all,” said Anthony Martignetti, out in the crowd. “The inmates should be running the asylum.” Martignetti — close friend and sometime collaborator with Dresden Dolls frontwoman Amanda Palmer — was speaking of the two-hour-plus show at the American Repertory Theatre’s Zero Arrow Theatre, Sxip’s Hour of Charm. Friday night’s installment began a string of three different weekend performances. Palmer, who’d put the multi-disciplinary shows together with her New York pal Shirey, noted that the variety of acts — a rope climber, a twisted cabaret act, a rolling steel-wheel performer, and more — “are part of one huge incestuous family.”
The evening — call it a rock-and-roll circus — began above us with Una Mimnagh climbing a rope and contorting about, sans net. Reggie Watts mixed human beatbox shenanigans with dry humor, and Jonas Woolverton, a Lexington native who also performs with Cirque Éloize, executed elegant maneuverings in and about the large Cyr Wheel as it spun on stage.
Shirey brought up Jason Webley (“a young Tom Waits with accordion”), who entertained with a Gypsy-punk-folk mélange. Webley asserted that if everyone sang along to “Dance While the Sky Crashes Down,” it would become a happy song. And it did.
Palmer later pulled that trick with “Sing”: she invited audience members to take the stage and join her in the dark tune, turning “Life is no cabaret/We don’t care what you say” into something upbeat. Palmer also unveiled several new songs, among them the dramatic “Point of It All.” And faux French chanteuse Meow Meow performed fake French cabaret, mixing sex, artifice, and music. Yes, the ART’s productions at Zero Arrow have been about rocking the boat. “It’s good fun and it’s good performance,” said ART executive director Robert Orchard. “Mixing up styles adds to the value of the culture community, and it’s an artistic conduit to the community that follows the Dresden Dolls.”
The fun continues this weekend and next; see Editor’s picks, for details.