One November night in 1954, a flaming meteor crashed through a roof in Sylacauga, Ala., striking Mrs. Ann Hodges. The housewife was napping on her couch at the time and sustained only bruises to the leg. After this extraordinary incident, she vowed never to fall in love again, considering "the inevitable danger of two bodies falling into the same space at the same time."
Choreographer-puppeteer-dancer Michael Bodel uses that bizarre bit of history to create the aptly named Mrs. Hodges Was Struck by a Meteorite. The performance piece ruminates on the physics of the universe and the soul, and both are addressed with solemn curiosity.
According to the script, Mrs. Hodges broke her pledge when she met a man in the Alabama state library and, as happens in science as well as in love, "Two bodies in space collided and stuck." Her story is aligned with similarly strange accounts: a coconut dropping into a baby carriage on Waikiki, a New York window washer falling onto a man on the street.
The serene show is underscored with evocative ambient sounds by Lavendar Diamond, Bernard Fleischmann, and E*vax. Dara Lewis narrates the piece with the kind of lulling monotone that can be heard at the Hayden Planetarium or from a high school geometry teacher.
However fascinating the subject or sweet the tone, Mrs. Hodges overreaches. Modern dancers (Bodel and Lily Skove), giant puppets, minicameras projecting live scenes upstage — it's too much. If each of these elements were expertly executed, then a stellar staging might result. But the dancing is labored and the puppeteering by Enrico Wey and Jessica Valadez is rudimentary. That's physics for you.
Presented by Here Arts Center as part of the American Living Room at 3LD Art & Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St., NYC. Aug. 22-23.