Lunar Sea, presented by MOMIX
At the Lobero Theatre, Friday, November 3.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Schwyzer
When I was a kid, I used to wedge myself in the kitchen window on the sill, so one arm and leg hung outside the house while the others kept me anchored inside. When the sun was at the right angle, the windowpane became reflective, mirroring my limbs so I appeared like an oversized spider hanging in midair, waving appendages in perfect symmetry. This was a highly entertaining activity — for about 20 minutes. Stretch the spider game out much longer and the unexpected effect lost its novelty, just as the magic of MOMIX’s Lunar Sea wore thin before long.
“I know what I should have taken before this show,” my date whispered jokingly as psychedelic trance music throbbed through the theater and glowing bodies appeared to levitate behind images of outer space projected on a transparent downstage scrim. At first, the optical illusions achieved by clever costuming and blue-green black lights were a real trip: Dancers appeared weightless, bounded like moonwalkers, swam through the air, and rolled as if washed in surging surf. It wasn’t long, though, before these devices became familiar — at which point I was ready to journey to the next level. Instead, Lunar Sea remained somewhere on the ocean floor, where humanoid creatures bounced and swayed their way through a series of disparate scenes that began to feel empty despite their novelty. For the most part, the performers were remote, their faces and their personalities masked by darkness and identical bodysuits. They became more like flecks in a kaleidoscope than individuals — interchangeable, mechanical parts in a constantly shifting pattern.
Lunar Sea had some arresting moments, among them a bevy of bobbing jellyfish formed by women holding umbrellas draped with white sheets. Chances to really see the performers’ bodies and their expressions were rare and satisfying; in a steamy male-female duet, we got some black light relief and enjoyed the unfolding, ravenous relationship as the dancers slithered over and around one another and fused together to create a single, insect-like form. In one delightful section, four grinning women in conical, tasseled hats and strapless bathing suits bounced and rolled on giant exercise balls, bopping their heads and striking poses in unison like loopy synchronized swimmers.
My date, an open-minded modern dance initiate, recognized Lunar Sea’s entertainment value and enjoyed the underwater revelry without taking the bait. “Part of me wishes,” he whispered at one point, “they’d use all this to tell some kind of story.”