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STAGE REVIEW : Blue Palm's Playful Assault on 'Amour'

December 01, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

Love, amour , amor , a rose is a rose is a rose by any other name. . . . That's the feeling you get from Blue Palm--an exotic name for the team of Tom Crocker and Jackie Planeix, a pair of American expatriates and former Bejart dancers living in Paris, who have brought their "Amour," real and theatricalized, to the Wallenboyd.

"Poems, Dreams and Lies About Love" is the subtitle for this sly collage of multilingual word games, funky costume, gender bending, romantic music and Korg D-D-1, the computerized percussion that punctuates some of their scenes, most notably the last.

Scene titles are equally intriguing, especially "Mango Stew," a string of food word/love games done almost as a form of scatting.

A lot of what Crocker and Planeix say is stream-of-consciousness chatter about love and sex. Some of it is romantically inflected intentional gibberish ("Wa-wa chica-chica boom-boom . . . ").

A lot of what they do is visually humorous, with fish-head earmuffs and an Adam and Eve sequence in which Planeix sports an apple dangling by a tied-on tail while Crocker dangles a serpent.

All of it is playful.

A sequence called "Romeo and Juliet Sweet" gives us a mating dance in many guises: R&J a la ghetto, R&J in the jungle (lots of mumbo jumbo), R&J go on vacation, "leaving behind a Shakespeare hard up for a pair of key deaths."

Funny stuff. Wry too. And, yes, disjointed. The several parts don't quite connect, despite the inherent cleverness and the satirical alternation of rock and percussion and romantic crooning, mostly in French (including Charles Trenet's lilting " Que Reste-t' Il de Nos Amours? " and such '30s-'40s ballads as " Je suis seule ce soir, avec ma peine ," singer undetermined). Sometimes the music drowns out the words. Sometimes the words drown out the words.

"Amour" is one of those elusive theater/performance art pieces that defies particular definition, but offers a lightweight, lighthearted, oblique glance at love by a couple of talented performers on their way to somewhere, though nobody knows just where, perhaps not even they.

The nagging suspicion is that this pair is capable of much more than the terms of this "Amour" allow. Their dance training serves them well physically, but vocally they're a bit fuzzy and the intellectual approach is scattershot. "Amour" is fun (and a little puzzling) while it lasts, but it doesn't stick with you.

Performances at 301 Boyd St. (corner of Wall Street) downtown are Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. until Jan. 2. Sundays at 8 p.m., Blue Palm offers "Dance Talks!" (reviewed earlier) at the Saxon-Lee Gallery, 7525 Beverly Blvd. in Hollywood until Dec. 27. Both shows are presented by Pipeline. Tickets for each: $10; (213) 629-2205.

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