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Elemental bond

Nothing’s recycled in ‘The Aluminum Show,’ a one-of-a-kind theater experience

Rod Lott April 13th, 2011

The Aluminum Show
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker

High_Rez 057

Never before did I expect to see the Civic Center Music Hall awash in bits of floating foil. And that’s not even close to being the most outlandish element of “The Aluminum Show,” which made its Oklahoma City debut last night. What audiences saw was so different — a mix of dance, visuals, illusions and “how did the hell did they do that?” — a few minutes of acclimation were required.

The opening scene allows for such, depicting two large aluminum tubes falling in love and procreating, resulting in the birth of a remote-control baby Slinky, who proceeds to steal the show as he inches his way through a world of discovery. (Slinky sex? That’s new.) What follows is tough to describe, but a marvel to witness.

Whether it’s tubes slowly snaking their way over audience members’ heads, or the assembly of a giant, inflatable golem that then walks offstage and up the aisle, the conceptual work is infinitely innovative, as if a scrappy, experimental theater company got drunk and raided the contractors’ pick-up window at Home Depot.

As the self-deprecating prologue suggested, “Just play along.”

It’d be tough not to. The spirited score pulls you in, at first sounding like moodscape master Brian Eno before seguing into uptempo numbers that playfully channel '80s electropop collective The Art of Noise, and all without lyrics. The lone exception is a puppet-led medley that merges Guns N’ Roses with the theme from “Ghostbusters.” I haven’t heard anything as lively in other recent Celebrity Attractions shows — top that, “The Color Purple”!

Unfortunately, the 90-minute, intermission-free show’s interactivity was taken by some audience members as an invitation to ignore the rules of common courtesy. Conversations were a problem (did they think the opening “no talking” warning was just for show?), as was the crinkling of confetti by the woman behind me.

As for onstage gripes, they are minute and barely worth mentioning. The choreography is not always executed with Rockettes-style precision, but the dancers are completing complex routines utilizing items that don’t take direction from anything beyond the laws of physics, so that can be forgiven. “Aluminum” also felt like it had about 10 endings, one of which ventured so far over-the-top that I was reminded — albeit only briefly — of the classic “Zoo Animals on Wheels” episode of Chris Elliott’s “Get a Life” sitcom of the ‘90s. (Then again, I would pay to see “Zoo Animals on Wheels” live.)

Despite the colorful show’s generous use of a household item we use to wrap kitchen leftovers, there’s nothing chintzy about it. If you have the time to see it before its run ends Sunday, do so, and take the family. I’ve never seen anything like it, and for once, that's not hyperbole — prepare to be dazzled by its boundless creativity. —Rod Lott

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