Wednesday, January 9

Considering "Tanguera"

Night before my pan-European Christmas vacation began, I caught Tanguera, a modern musical that manages not to be based on a book written by Hugo, Eliot or Maguire; second-class movie; or some band looking to provide the next Mamma Mia!, on opening night at the Deutsches Theater. Ever since deciding that a Dance Minor would be fun and subsequently discovering that I could not actually complete it, I have been getting more into social dance, especially Argentine Tango for its music and moves that do not require planning five steps ahead. Thus, when the advertisements were screaming “Das tango Musikal direkt aus Buenos Aires,” my attention was rather effectively caught.

Certainly no intellectual heavyweight questioning the postmodern condition or anything of that sort, it was a story of love at first sight, love thwarted, love fought for and love immortalized. In short, it was fun and effectively so. I never fidgeted and was quite amazed to realize when I left that the running time pushed two hours and catching the familiar sounds of “Pena multa” in such a production was a pleasure.

The story. Dock Worker falls in love with Girl as she comes off the boat. Her returned affections, accompanied by a spotlight and the freezing of all other players on stage, are clear. Unfortunately, Local Brothel Owner, identified by his wearing of a hat, is also intrigued by Girl and takes her away. Dock Worker, disliked by Brothel Owner, is disturbed by this, and his increasingly violent attempts to regain Girl propel the rest of the story on through the building action to the climax.

And all of this, excluding the briefest of Spanish prologues and epilogues, is performed entirely without words, only dance, specifically, the titular Tango. When love is in the air, they tango. When they wash their laundry, they tango. When they fight, they actually tango. When Girl is attempting to decide between the true love of Dock Worker or moderately glamorous though mostly seedy life offered by Brothel Owner, they make their respective arguments through a threesome tango, one of the best moments in the entire musical.

One gripe. Part of the fun of musicals I have always understood, if my friends and their immense appreciation for Wicked and Rent is any indication, is the ability to participate, mostly through the singing. As already mentioned, the lack of vocals in this musical (does is still count as such then?) is not so possible with Tanguera. I guess I can just play some of the classics constantly on my laptop or tango my way to class. Unfortunately as my companion for the evening, who ought to know considering his month-long stay in Buenos Aires to practice the only dance I have referenced in this entire post, noted, none of the moves in Tanguera are practically possible. Of course they were choreographed and practiced until the actors were twitching the moves out in their sleep. It is just kind of disappointing when I cannot take anything from it.

No comments: