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Hello Again!

By John Barnard | Posted 1/28/2004

Hello Again!

I'm sure Hello Again! wants to be something--perhaps a commentary on sexual politics, an investigation into human carnality, or a challenge to some perceived residual Victorianism in popular culture. Or perhaps it means to be some joke about the desire for commentary, investigations, and challenges to our preconceived notions of whatever. I don't really know. What it is, however, at least in its current incarnation at the Spotlighters Theatre, is a veritable festival of dry humping, set to what sounds like the theme music to the Colecovision version of "Donkey Kong."

The story consists of a series of vignettes, in which every imaginable cliché about human sexuality is deployed and repeated ad nauseam. Each is a musical duet, in which a pair of lovers exchange a few canned lines of seduction dialogue ("I've gotta get this little itch scratched," "You think I'm pretty?" "Yeah," etc.) and then get half-naked and fuck in a variety of positions, most of which seem derived from Cinemax After Dark. In every case, as you might imagine, things go sour afterward. "You son of a bitch," says the whore, as the soldier exits stage right. As the playbill astutely reminds us: "Some things never change."

In its defense, the principle at work in the show is structural, not narrative. Based on Arthur Schnitzler's fin-de-siècle La Ronde, the progression of the episodes mimics the structure of a musical round. We begin with a whore and a soldier, then proceed to the soldier and a nurse, the nurse (in white fishnets and garters, no less) and a student, the student and an adulteress, and so on, until we return to the whore, who for some reason keeps offering her services for free.

There's some singing and dancing (most of which was hard to sit through), suggested oral-genital stimulation, and occasional commentary from the chorus--commentary that's truly shocking, fresh almost, in its willingness to traffic in the overused idiom of supermarket romance and really bad pop music. "We kiss," sings the chorus, "and the angels cry."

Perhaps the fact that one of the vignettes is actually set on the Titanic is meant to inspire visions of Céline Dion, reclining on a piano, in some sort of strange hybrid of half-nude revue, underground performance-art venue, and airport lounge. Again, I'm just not sure. But whatever it's meant to do, the whole thing is just plain embarrassing.

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