“Gotham City” is a comic book come alive in an explosion of dance so dynamic you can see the “POW!” and “BAM!” jumping off the page. The original story by Mark Hackman is brought to life by the choreography of Jessica Deahr, the sound design of several DJs, and the dance of almost thirty people in a must-see show.
When the lights go down, the underbelly of Gotham emerges. Gangs battle for supremacy of the streets, a tourist couple gets lost, an injured girl picks pockets and falls in love with another thief, and the Joker-esque Jester releases a gas that makes everyone mad. Other than the intermittent announcements about the city’s toxicity levels, it’s a wordless show, but there’s no loss of intricacy, as the dancers’ movements tell each detail perfectly.
Deahr has matched up dance styles with the status of the groups that use them: gangs use hip-hop and the Brazilian fight-dance capoeira, the upper-crust tourist couple uses ballet, and the clowns let their anarchic spirit show in contemporary moves with commedia dell’arte overtones. The music is thoughtfully done, from the way it rises slowly in the opening number to draw us in to the story, to the moments the lyrics mimic the action on stage. The costuming makes it easy to discern characters in the crowd, and even the lighting is more integral to the story than in other shows. Every detail contributes to the story and reveals its depths.
But all this would be nothing without the dancing, and the dancing is superb. Every moment contains an interesting movement, and the athleticism of this group is astounding, especially in the fight scenes. In particular, David Chase, Brian Humpherys, Mary Tarpley, and Julian Devine are captivating.
Batman’s signal appears occasionally, but thank goodness we don’t see Gotham’s most famous resident; the underground populace he fights is far more interesting to watch, and we might wish for the dangerous night to continue indefinitely.