nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
August 16, 2008
Desir offers an abundance of beautiful people doing amazing feats that most of us could never dream of doing. It is a spectacle to behold and enjoy—though maybe not one that will stay with you for very long after you leave.
Desir is loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde. Each new performer interacts with the prior performer to create the circle of lovers in La Ronde. Other than that, Desir doesn't impose a storyline on the performance.
Victoria Di Pace opens the show as the chanteuse in a stunning dress singing her way to center stage. Olaf Triebel bends and balances his body in astonishing and painful looking ways—first on a set of three posts set at various heights, and then from a pair of straps hung from the ceiling. This guy was so hot they literally had to cover him in whip cream. Later Annie-Kim Dehry and Marieve Hammond perform the steamiest act of them all in a sensual double trapeze act in which their bodies intertwine and dangle from each other. Certainly the most impressive act of the evening is the Bravo Brothers, who build human towers and do throws so high that I thought they would hit the big top.
Not all of the acts are amazing feats. Many are campy, touch-in-cheek send-ups of acts that you would see in a show like Desir. Hula-hooper Marawa Ibrahim does a Josephine Baker bit wearing a banana skirt but she takes the skirt off to hula-hoop because that would have been an amazing feat. Her hula-hooping is good but it is her campy smile and funny expressions that really entertain. There is some nutty business toward the end where two performers pretend to do amazing feats of balancing when they are actually dangling from safety lines. I like a show that can make fun of itself.
Created by director Wayne Harrison and choreographer John O'Connell, Desir is a night of entertainment that doesn't require you to bring anything more than your senses of humor and wonderment. David Quinn's costumes are both seductive and revealing. The performance is tight and sparkly and half of that is due to Quinn's costumes. Josh Abrahams provides music that is cobbled together from various sources and does very well at creating moods of lust and tension and fanfare.
There is something very alluring about the atmosphere at the Spiegeltent. There is the excitement you feel at the circus mixed with the sultry air of a cabaret. The lusty themes of Desir are just titillating enough to excite you, not so much as to offend. It's a safe evening, at least for you, but I can't say the same for the performers. Whenever I watch acrobats do their thing I always have a fear that it will go wrong and that just adds to my excitement. It's a dazzling evening and well worth the time spent.