Co.Venture is very bizarre. That’s the easiest way to describe the show. Starting this review was perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve had to do because I truly don’t know what to say about this really weird show. It’s a show that is one part comedy, one part dance, and one part puppets mixed in with a disjointed conversation that felt forced and was unengaging.
The Brooklyn Touring Outfit brings David Vaughn to the Montreal Fringe this year, a dance historian and archivist of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where he reminisces about Merce Cunningham with a young dancer, who sporadically breaks out into dance every once in a while.
The show actually started off brilliantly with Vaughn on stage apologizing to the audience that they were going to bring a large dance troupe to perform 10 spectacular dances, but were held up in customs. He then proceeds to read off the 10 different dances that the audience missed out on, each one more ridiculous than the last which included premises like the Wolfman meeting and trying to eat mechanical dolls. It was actually knee-slapping funny.
Immediately after this little comic bit things take a turn for the serious with the fragmented and confusing to follow conversation around the memories of Merce Cunningham, dancer and choreographer, who passed away at the age of 90 in 2009. To split up this conversation there were dance sequences and scenes of disembodied heads, feet and hands on stilt like puppets. These puppets, of sorts, roamed the stage, creating an absurdity that was never truly given a reason but acknowledged at points with lines such as: “It’s not easy holding a foot on a stick”.
One of the highlights of this show was a little chair dance duet that Vaughn did with the young dancer on stage with him, which was just as funny as it was charming.
Overall I don’t really know what to make of Co.Venture. It was strange, it was bizarre, it had moments that held my attention and I thought were brilliantly clever, but it was brought down by a tepid conversation that never seemed to amount to anything.
Simon’s 2 Cents: I wish I could hate this, but I really can’t.