Because it contains highly sensitive information, parts of this document cannot be released to the public. Portions have been declassified to provide insight into events taking place June 3-18 at Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation Blvd, Houston TX. The project, code-named MKUltra by FrenetiCore operatives, subjects audience members to “lightly intrusive” observation and experiments which have been sponsored by the Alta Nada Corporation. Further details will be offered on a need-to-know basis.
Most audience members have probably never had to sign a waiver of liability nor been asked to voluntarily receive a dosage of psychoactive drugs, harmless or otherwise, on a night out at the theater or ballet. This is just the beginning for patrons of Frenetic Theater when they take in MKUltra. But don’t worry, medical staff and security hover nearby. Whether these officials are ensuring safety or enforcing compliance, is left for the audience to decide. As a result, they enter the newly renovated Studio F space a little on edge, unsure of what to expect, yet if senses are keen, aware that they are being manipulated and that the performance has already begun.
Once seated in the “observation room,” the viewers submit to a mixed-media collage of investigative reports regarding government testing and use of mind control methods. Documentary film clips covering the CIA’s illegal and supposedly abandoned human research programs MK-ULTRA and Project ARTICHOKE are scattered throughout. Unfortunately, audio within the small, industrial room is often muffled making these curious little nuggets of intelligence difficult to decipher.
White over-jackets worn by the dancers during a haunting opening resemble both lab coats and strait jackets. Choreographer and company director, Rebecca French’s amebic partnering and meditative gesture are effectively hypnotic alongside the electronic score. This dark and mysterious vignette, it’s bookend closer, and a sly and disturbingly humorous rendering of Nine Inch Nail’s Head Like A Hole, are choreographic highlights for the evening.
Making appearances onstage, French demonstrates that she is a strong performer. She pairs well with Chadwick Peters in an understated, but certainly coital entanglement, which is interrupted by incoming military aviators. Performers, French and Peters, along with Linda Gomez, Veronica Honstein, Mallory Horn, Stacey Ramsower, and Yahudi Castaneda turn in committed and generally charming performances throughout.
As a production and artistic team Robert Thoth and French are on the same page, and there seems no shortage of ideas between them. Some notions, such as a tenuously associated Enter the Ninja, and a talking artichoke bearing a vocal resemblance to South Park’s Mr. Hanky, fall flat. However, psychedelic floor projections and a monstrous, undulating drop cloth are striking pieces of the mosaic.
Be aware that those with epilepsy or heart conditions that would cause adverse reaction to loud (and I do mean loud) noises or strobe light should not attend. I would advise to dress in light clothing as the contained observation theater can be stifling. Though by and large entertaining and a distinctively playful ruse MKUltra risks ruffling the feathers of some unsuspecting patrons. Volunteer drug experiment or not, the barrage of auditory and visual stimuli during MKUltra may indeed alter your state of consciousness. Forewarned is forearmed.
Please note, having voluntarily read this review, you hereby waive liability of any and all injury sustained due to differences of opinion.
Reprinted from Dance Source Houston
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