Live review | We Stand Sideways | “Ta Da! The Assistant’s Revenge”
In a parallel universe, there’s a version of “Ta Da! The Assistant’s Revenge” with illusions that are magical. This shadow version of the cabaret-esque show by We Stand Sideways, repeating tonight at 10pm at the, executes its blend of postmodern choreography and burlesque in a way that brings sexiness to the former and structure to the latter. Its jokes are funny, and delivered with snap. Its professed feminist critique rips into its subject—male magicians who don’t give credit where credit’s due—with sharp teeth.
But in our world, “Ta Da!” gums the puportedly sexist magic biz with all the tenacity of a mare with two hooves in the glue factory struggling to conquer a steamed carrot.
I really wanted to enjoy this show. The dance world—a parallel universe of its own sometimes—needs more companies like the one We Stand Sideways wants to be. Troupes that present smart, sexy, funny performances with crossover appeal in unconventional spaces, like subterranean Wrigleyville bars with surprisingly spacious stages. That build soundtracks that tap artists like Glass Candy, whose “Digital Versicolor” scores the first dance number, a striptease in reverse; and local band the Embraceables, whose “Panties in the Sink” scores another ending with flying underwear, shot off of the feet of supine dancers like rubberbands off of fingers.
During the hour-long show’s brief intermission, one guy-guy of the sort who hardly ever attends a dance show asked another of the same, “How was Indiana? I heard you got in trouble for mooning somebody.” His friend confirmed the rumor by mimicking his scold: “‘I can see your ass, man, and I got kids in the backseat!’” Gender equality was not among the topics they discussed over $3 cans of PBR, under speakers dripping Weezer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Nor was it on my mind, although I was thinking about the city’s sizeable burlesque scene and how much of it seems like a hierarchical racket.
In the second act, the magician—a top hat and tuxedo jacket draped over a coat rack, voiced from offstage—is warned, “Don’t saw her in half, unless you want to deal with what’s inside,” which is good advice for anyone. But after watching the seven cast members continue, faking orgasms, stealing sips of patrons’ drinks, traipsing on the tables and across the bar’s counter, I still couldn’t tell you what’s inside of the show’s creators (Amanda Timm, with Maggie Kubley and Tricky Ol’ Puss) or five additional performers. I’ve got nothing against entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but you’ve got to dig deeper within to deliver a punch to the gut.
“Ta Da! The Assistant’s Revenge” concludes May 27 at 10pm at the Underground Lounge.