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New York Theater

Open Door

There may currently be no more savage sight on a New York stage -- the exhumed, reanimated corpses of Les Misérables and A Chorus Line exempted -- than the perversely playful dance of executive hedonism that kicks off Federico Restrepo's fantastic multimedia work Open Door.

As a besuited quartet of proud-as-a-peacock performers trades off intoxicating sips of the world's natural and human resources, director-choreographer Restrepo quickly allays any trepidation one might have in giving over to yet another attempt at the politically resonant fusion of technology and performing arts. Though Open Door stylishly fulfills the promise of each word in its subtitle -- it's billed as "A Dance Puppet Music Urban Odyssey" -- it also impresses as a work of whirling intelligence. In no small part, this owes to the ideal musical contributions of composer-lyricist Elizabeth Swados, whose sometimes sinuous, sometimes pulsating efforts augment the staging and underline the key concepts.

The American controversy over immigration is a strange one. Astonishingly, a wedge issue exists where both the political left and right are in complete agreement: They have no idea what to do. The lack of any viable pragmatic analogue of entrenched ideological positions has created an often-dangerous sense of frustration that Restrepo here harnesses and feeds off.

Just as effective as raucous scenes of greed and violence, like the dance opening "Sucking the World dry...while the rest of us drown," are vignettes of pure joy interrupted -- the blocked migration of a flock of puppet birds, the sweep of fear that overtakes an impassioned dance with larger-than-life marionette ancestors.

At a brief running time of little more than an hour, Open Door doesn't provide any answers to the tough questions of immigration, but it does suggest an instructive model for warfare: Get in, get out, and don't squander any resources while making an impression in that precious time between.

Presented as part of the TeatroStage Festival by and at La MaMa E.T.C.,

74A E. Fourth St., NYC.

Dec. 1-17. Thu.-Sun., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.

(212) 475-7710 or (212) 352-3101 or www.lamama.org or www.theatermania.com.

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