Brian Sanders’ JUNK – Plunge

plunge

 

The Take-Away

  • Awesome space to have a performance
  • Humor and athleticism
  • A look into the past…from the future

 

In my pockets:

The first JUNK show I ever saw at Fringe Festival was “Flushdance” several years ago. I’ve been a big fan ever since. I’m also a fan of circus dance and its opportunities for poignancy and humor. I will also say that I personally find dance shows hard to review. I find the things dancers can do with their bodies amazing and worthy of high praise, and sometimes dance isn’t made with a “message” for anybody to “get.”

 

The design:

Plunge is immersive and mobile in a small space. I couldn’t help remembering last year’s walking tour through Forgotten Bottom’s Schuykill Banks Strand – it was so expansive, and in contrast, this year is more intimate. 

In Plunge, we have gathered at a party celebrating the future’s past, complete with Go-Go Dancers and “ancient ruins” (ruins, in this case, is a rock installation with cushions on it). The performance space is The Patio at Spring Arts, a pop up bar under the train tracks (open until Halloween!).

Lights flashed and spun, which is great for a 1960s Boogie Nights-esque themed piece. The costumes were layers of stark white that revealed colorful 1960s bathing suits underneath. The soundtrack was lively, and a hilarious voiceover led us through a tour of “ancient artifacts” from the past and even some made up Philadelphia history.

 

The performances:

What I appreciate about Brian Sanders’ work with JUNK is the marriage of playfulness and loose narrative structure with the amazing physical feats his performers are capable of. 

Plunge features only three performers (Laura Jenkins, Alyssa Kennedy, and Rimaj Todd) and one go-go dancer during the 50 minute show. The most impressive vignettes included a thruple dance exploring old-time gender roles and abuse, clad in white, to Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea.” It’s a fairly dark piece in the middle of a darkly humorous evening, and it stands out. Another highlight is a tank dance above the audience and an aerial act from the train tracks above.

I believe their opening night was rained out, so there were still some technical hiccups (to be expected when performing outside, in a site-specific space. Things happen). However, the dancers recovered gracefully.

There are two “intermissions” in the 50 minute piece so patrons can get more drinks at the bar, which breaks up the action a bit, but may be necessary for performers to catch their breath in such a demanding piece. Overall, it was a lovely diversion. Some of the images from Plunge will live in my mind forever and I’ll continue to make JUNK a must-see company on my Fringe list since few folks do it better.

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