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In Debut : The Hinge Company

November 08, 1986|DONNA PERLMUTTER

Searching out a feminine identity never seems to lose its fascination for creative artists. From Judy Chicago to Bella Lewitzky, and many in between, the subject still stands as a Rubik's cube of psycho-social interest.

Take Tobi Redlich and Linde van Buren, as an example. When their female dance/performance company, Hinge, made its debut Thursday at the Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica, the whole effort went toward unifying a splintered sexual image.

In "Hot House," however, Redlich could come up with little more than barefoot bourrees and other balletic maneuvers clumsily grafted onto her wordless monologue. There was nothing illuminating here. At best, she offered simple exhibitionism in the guise of soul-searching--all of it framed in homey, Salvation Army digs.

The symbolism of Redlich's high-hung wedding gown (she self-communes inside its gauzy skirts) was simplistic and superficial. The industrial sound track lacked originality, notwithstanding its flushing toilet. Matters hardly improved with Van Buren's appearance as a crippled old hag making her tedious way to a couch and slowly removing her stockings with great difficulty.

But Maureen Byrnes, as a stripper and the final element in this feminine triptych, at least had a stage presence that proved temporarily magnetizing. Ultimately, the flimsiness of ideas and their crude execution overwhelmed any lingering notions of deliberate kitsch in this performance piece.

Nor did "Sacred and Profane Love" show further dimension to Redlich's imaginative resources. Even if one excused the shoestring-budget decor (plastic shower curtains), little could save these choreographed primitive mysteries from a sophomoric fate. This exercise for five vestal virgins who come bearing bowls, who sway and circle ritually, hardly belongs in a class, much less on a stage.

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