As Aldo Perez sits contemplatively at the center of the stage, his former lover descends from the ceiling wearing nothing but a diaper and a series of harness straps that attach her to an elaborate pulley system. At the edges of the set stand gleaming metal troughs of water, their contents disturbed by fans mounted on their edges. While Perez's infantilized ex prods at him with intimate details of their sex life, a video of the two of them going at it plays on a computer screen on the desk next to him. "It's really hard to take states of matter seriously anymore," he notes.
States of matter, apparently, are the only things that writer-director-designer Kevin Cunningham can't take seriously in his overdesigned hourlong multimedia navel-gazing extravaganza Degeneracy. The play focuses on the failed relationships that Perez's character has suffered through -- one with the bad girl/topless infant character, another with a nicer-seeming girl, and a less-definite relationship with two women and a man.
Degeneracy is the first work produced by 3-Legged Dog at the newly constructed 3LD Art and Technology Center, a few blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. The company and others are trying to revitalize the area and turn it back into a cool neighborhood. It's an uphill battle, and this sort of material won't make it any easier.
Perez and his fellow performers throw themselves into the raw carnality of Cunningham's pretentious script and give texture to some of its shades of self-pity. The set by Michael Byrnes never lacks for complexity. The play starts with a giant video screen obscuring the stage where a curtain would be; occasionally it descends to play inscrutable videos. But for all the technical wizardry, the subject matter never makes the extravagance necessary. Rather than a system serving an abstract script, as in the work of Richard Foreman or the Wooster Group, the production is simply stuff plus actors. It doesn't add up to much.
Presented by 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group
at the 3LD Art and Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St., NYC.
April 12-30. Wed.-Sun., 8 p.m.