This new show began simply, with a disheveled actor lounging on a love seat and a solitary singer, Leo Gallo, using samples and an effects pedal to layer his own voice into a bed for short and bluesy improvisation on the show’s title phrase, “when the lights go out.” But what began simply quickly turned intricate, as projected images and rock music coalesced with dance, aerial acrobatics, and expressionistic vignettes to form an intriguingly enigmatic whole. Although aerial performers have become a regular feature of cirque and festival shows over the past few years, the presentation of the art form here, in particular the hammock/sling dance of Autumn Phillips, brought something new to the genre. As Phillips twirled, inverted, and twisted in a spotlight of flashing polka dots, drummer Kourtney Klein augmented the music on a snare, all the while clad in an elegant, fitted, white wedding dress. This might give you some idea of the eclecticism and vivid imagery of the show.
The evening’s hard-hitting rock soundtrack was matched by a continuous film projection that pulled no punches in regard to content. For example, the song “I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie featuring Nine Inch Nails was accompanied by documentary images of Ku Klux Klan rallies. Not all of the numbers were so political. In fact, the dominant note was an erotic one, with dancers in lingerie gyrating in and around the audience. Perhaps the evening’s most intriguing number involved performer Athena Sterig playing a scene seated on a bed and holding a car’s steering wheel. As Sterig swayed and spun the wheel on an imaginary wild ride, the projection behind her brought the audience into the car with her. While the trip may not have been totally safe, the sense was that the majority of those in the crowd enjoyed the lift and would hop in again.