A man 'whipped' with a silvery scarf, a man's lips tracing the outlines of a dagger gripped in the teeth of a supine, undulating woman, a woman with glittering, vacant eyes who spins in a circle of crazed delight: Such were the stylized fancies of "The Ephemeral Nature of Madame de Sade," a performance art piece presented at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions on Friday as part of the Fringe Festival.
Conceived by Nancy Evans, who also delivered the often-unintelligible narration in a blurry, affected voice, the piece was inspired by a play by Yukio Mishima.
Ritualized, slow-motion actions offered a musky whiff of untold depravities. The four performers--Frank Adams, Cynthia Hord, Bridget Gallagher and Kathleen Becket--moved with taut muscular control and an aura of dreamy madness. Hord, as the Marquis' paramour, was particularly compelling. But Adams, in the title role, suggested a muscular surfer out for kicks rather than a man of desperate hungers.
A three-man ensemble (Bruce Fowler on trombone, Ricardo Lemmers on percussion instruments and Paul M. Young, the composer, supervising electronic effects) offered witty incidental music that either took its cue from brave republican marches or erupted in spasms of clatters, knocks and moans.
Although Evans' set amounted to a curious hodgepodge of derelict, fanciful and obscure items, Nancy Riegelman's costumes cleverly infused a "period" style with poetic license.