ART FAG: THE COLLABORATIONS, INTERACTIONS AND WORKS OF D.A. HOSKINS choreographed and directed by D.A. Hoskins (Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander). To January 13. Pwyc-$25. Rating: NNN
Whenever an artist keeps referring to his work as uncompromising, as D.A. Hoskins does, start worrying. Uncompromising usually means self-indulgent, made worse when someone’s directing his own work and lacks what every artist needs: a shit detector.
Fortunately, there’s very little shit to detect in Art Fag, Hoskins’s multimedia triptych dealing with issues of sexuality and identity.
Sunday’s matinee hit a major snag – we heard the persistent sound of water trickling from Buddies’ leaky roof into a pail throughout the show, but the Dietrich Group performers overcame it.
Art Fag starts powerfully with Hard Candy, a duet featuring the superb Danielle Baskerville and Brendan Wyatt, set to spoken word by Jill Battson and an effectively disturbing score by Gilles Goyette. Wyett is riveting, his super-fluid movement making his limbs look like spaghetti on the one-hand, his rock-hard body in a nude scene looking like marble on the other.
The piece, about ambivalence in a relationship, has enormous emotional force – Baskerville spitting water at the nude Wyatt really works – and Hoskins has a strong visual sensibility to back it up. A sequence with Baskerville abusing a bouquet of flowers is a knockout.
The larger work, Lady, also has great depth of feeling, this time exploring the social meaning of sissy. Battson’s spoken word here is more literal but the dance brings artistry to a text that on its own might have sounded too didactic.
Brodie Stevenson, naked – and noisy – playing an ape in a tub, defines macho, and a pas de deux featuring Wyatt and Stevenson is a heartbreaking revelation, subverting the traditional heterosexual form in awesome ways.
The middle piece, I Am Marilyn, again well performed by Wyatt and set against Byron Fast’s text projected on a screen at the back of the stage, falls flat.
The text itself, spoken in Russian, is intriguing enough, about a man who believes he’s Marilyn Monroe and has an imaginary friend called Sergei, but the choreography doesn’t quite mesh.
Here’s where that shit detector could have come in handy.