|LAUGHING ON THE PRECIPICE Y2K
Cabaret pokes delicious fun at millennium anxiety
By Phaedra Greenwood The Taos News
What's so funny about Y2K?
Just about everything, if you're rolling in the aisle at the Y2K Cabaret with Daena Giardella and Wren Ross.
Y2K Cabaret made its debut performance at LB's Coffeehouse. Giardella gave a stunning, versatile and high-energy performance as Louise Travail who has "a lot of nervous energy and a long history of making lists." Travail is struggling to deal with "all the anxiety that accompanies a paradigm shift in the choreography of an enormously mysterious alignment with the Grand Cross. What the hell does that mean?"
Ross sings, "Whatever way you see it/it's all about the unknown/You can't control tomorrow/and you might not be able to use the phone."
"Y2K Cabaret" is a delicious alchemy of darkness and light as Giardella mocks the double message in the Y2K preparedness list from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that is supposed to cover the breakdown of civilization and the interruption of essential services -- which they say is going to be "just a bump in the road." This triggers an anxiety attack as Louise Travail wonders, "Will my toaster start to conspire with my toilet so my car won't recognize me?" She retreats to the 60's where she can "be in her moment."
Giardella is adept at changing costumes and personas from her inner child, who keeps popping out to do cartwheels and ask for lollipops, to her whining and demanding mother in red rhinestone glasses and other intriguing characters like the sympathetic neighbor Eleanor.
Sal, a sinister hit man in a black trench coat and jockey briefs, guides Louise through a transformative dream which she can't quite remember. "Dreams are more important that oxygen, food or water," Travail declares. "We'll never see a shortage of dreams."
The bumpy journey through the anxieties of Y2K, the millennium change that threatens to send computer clocks back to 1900, is buffered by the lovely voice of songwriter-guitarist Ross. She plays millennium minstrel, Marcia, who occasionally breaks out in an Italian aria. Jim Hobbs, dressed in white with shaved head, adds testosterone to the dance peformance in Giardella's portrayal of the tortured teenager, Tracy. Some members of the audience were brought to tears by Tracy's stormy performance as she declares, "You adults screwed it up for my generation and everybody after me. My grandkids are going to glow in the dark like lightbulbs."
The audience is incorporated into a Y2K community meeting to strategize, "process" their feelings and align their chakras. Ché Pirozak Lillick, age 9, wearing a red beret, brings some child-like sanity to the scene as Travail fields from the audience a Taoseños list of things to stock up on, which begins with green chile and runs the gamut from clean water, bicycles and firewood, to comic books and guitar strings.
It's hard to realize that the performance is largely an improv, with "islands" of destination. Giardella and Ross interact in a playful, seamless way with the audience as they enjoy the comical efforts of a character called "Kit Carson" working on his compliance program to reconnect local circuits before the New Year's Day deadline--"It's not a problem!"
In a sequence about Travail's love-hate relationship with her dying computer, Pal (played by T.C. Lillick) the computer, makes her promise that if anything happens to it, she'll take care of its mouse.
The tension of the play is resolved with positive images of a simpler life in a place where you got to know your neighbors and learn to live in a cooperative community. Ross sings, "May you walk a path that fills your life with grace and truth/May your spirit soar high with your art/May you see your strength reflected in your best friend's eyes/May great love fill the rooms of your heart."
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