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Punks and goths in 'Fable City'

The movement is tantalizing, but Kristen Lemberg's tale is otherwise scattershot.

September 09, 2003|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

There's no doubt that Kristen Lemberg has the ability to tantalize with her movement vocabulary. From hieroglyphic-like friezes and frenzied tribal tripping to mad spinning and isolated shoulder-shimmying, the girl would fit in at any headbanger rave. What Lemberg lacks, however, are potent enough acting or writing chops to sustain a 65-minute evening.

Which is what she attempted at Highways Performance Space on Sunday, when she offered "Wanderlust in Fable City (or Everything Is the Same on the Side of the Hill ... The View Is Just Different)." Scattershot, the piece, feebly directed by Rajendra Serber, is in serious need of editing. With migraine-inducing music by Cheryl E. Leonard and equally trying videos by Serber and Bulk Foodveyor, this recipe for disaster offered few artistic respites.

Lemberg's opening was one of them: A grinning neo-punk called Annie Herowane is mesmerically drawn to a tiny television. She bops all over -- twitching, undulating, rising on her toes. We want to delve into her wacky mind, but after five minutes, Annie's gone and we're subjected to the maniacally loud blatherings emanating from a video featuring antiwar geek Schwartzy (Donald the Nut).

Yes, war is a drag, but 15 minutes of this is interminable, as Lemberg (offstage) catches her breath, changes into goth attire and "becomes" Hera Anne. Ouch: This character, to the backdrop of a video cityscape that looks like pastel Triscuits, spouts such adages as "Time is finite"; does a few yoga variations, including a bent-knee, thigh-baring headstand; and crawls around the floor playing with a mysterious deck of cards.

The finale features the return of Herowane, who delivers a monologue in which she says she's horny, smells like soiled sheets and wants to be one of the "stinky boys." Lemberg then launches into her last dance -- one moment it's limbs akimbo like a wind-up Twyla Tharp doll doing the Charleston, the next she's jazzing sideways and going robotic before collapsing.

But the train wreck isn't quite finished. Lemberg rises, saying, "I will do whatever it takes to stay in the light," then madly pirouettes around the room. No doubt Lemberg will be taking this light -- along with her ego run rampant -- when she moves to London, as this was her final Los Angeles appearance for the foreseeable future.

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