This is most definitely not the kind of peacock your mom pointed out to you at the zoo. But the colors are just as lustrous, the grace as palpable and the pulsating, essential life as evident.
“Peacock,” going up this weekend, is the latest show by The Bad Romantics — an organization known to dazzle, shock and inspire, but rarely disappoint. Also, they borrowed the title from Katy Perry.
Needless to say, this reviewer went in with high expectations.
Eleven group members feature in the production, directed by Kiki Fehling ’11 and produced by Alejandro Bustillos ’11. The essential concept is simple: lip-syncing to a (relatively) well-known song, while channeling the performer’s perception of its meaning.
But then comes the drama.
And the cross-dressing.
And the sequins.
At least, unlike that frat boy handing you a cup as brightly colored as his polo shirt, the show is honest about its intentions. It, like him, wants to seduce you. That much is made obvious by the opening act, an arresting performance to Doris Day’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by Luca (Mariana Arjona Soberón ’13). Soberón’s talent might lie in her convincing acting or her ability to make a knee-length dress the right amount of provocative, but in the words of my French teacher (hi, Catharine!), she just has a certain “je ne sais quoi.”
Next up is “Lady Marmalade.” Christina Aguilera never stood a chance — Azure Ice (Bustillos) and the delightfully manic Franca Lingua (Julio Perez-Torres ’12) own the number. The Chicago medley is brilliant as well. Alana (Fehling) and Gypsy Pearl (Kate Parker ’11) channel Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly to the point where you feels a tad nervous about an impending murder.
Later in the show, LMNT’s “Hey Juliet” evinces the fact that genitalia do not a boy band make. Many a bad case of Bieber-fever may well turn into Yoshi-mania come this weekend, for Adam Swagger (Yoshi Shapiro ’11) is true heartthrob material.
But depth always underlies the Romantics’ fun. Consider a Disney medley where dildos take the place of Ariel’s “gadgets and gizmos galore,” an act featuring a gardener whose life anthem is Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and a desperate woman’s emotional breakdown to Whitney Houston’s “Look to You.” The show is entertaining, yes, but it makes you think as much as it makes you tap your foot.
Fun education is what college is about, amirite?
Nowhere is this maxim more clear than in the show’s pièce de résistance, Parker and Shapiro’s take on Meaghan Smith’s “Here Comes Your Man.” A cute couple walks on stage and proceeds to (almost) strip, each move more elegant than the last. The end result: They switch clothes, genders, identities. It’s all as fluid as a love song, and as irresistible, too.
The uniting thread between the performances is the show’s energy. Everyone on stage is having the time of their lives, it seems, as they communicate an infectious enthusiasm to an audience ready to perform high-kicks in the aisles. Trey Songz’s “Say Ahh” is the pinnacle of the show’s achievement in this sense — dancing almost becomes a physical necessity.
So, when the show lets you down, it lets you down hard. Occasional drops in energy frustrate viewers; the performers would be wise to keep their intensity high, even when delving into deeper material than the Madonna kind.
Another potential field for improvement is choreography. Enthralling as the performances are, a slight move towards more precision might push them into truly epic status.
Only at Yale would you see a group so daring perform in a theater that’s hosted operas and student-penned emodramas, classics and new sensations. Only at Yale could this group be as popular and mainstream as they are, and only at Yale could you have the opportunity to watch a show that is sexual liberation. It’s Toad’s and sociology rolled into one.