Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Connecting the Dots

I'm behind on my blog posting, and while I don't have time for a proper review (the Women and Comedy conference at SFU Harbour Centre that I've been helping to organize opens tomorrow), I did want to urge folks to check out Die Roten Punkte's newest show, Kunst Rock, on at the Cultch until next Thursday, and which Richard and I caught yesterday on opening night. Indeed, Astrid did extract a promise from the audience to tell all our friends.

Die Roten Punkte is the life/work performance art project of Astrid and Otto, a brother and sister rock duo whom we're meant to understand are orphans from Berlin (their parents either died in a train wreck or were mauled by a lion--it's not entirely clear), but who may just be a pair of friends/lovers/theatre artists from Melbourne. They're the White Stripes of the Fringe Festival circuit, complete with Astrid on drums and Otto on guitar. They blend parodic punk with hilarious on-stage banter and storytelling, the point of which is usually to highlight Astrid's sybaritic appetites and Otto's self-effacing gullibility.

Apart from one extended bit about the "artiest song" in their repertoire (which begins with Otto sampling the sound inside his head), the "art rock" premise of this show is less a structuring narrative motif than an extended conceit for the elaboration of their performative on-stage selves. In Astrid's case, this begins with her dress, pieces of which she removes to hilarious effect during one of the show's highlights. Indeed, these two are as adept at physical comedy as they are at deadpan comic banter and extravagantly theatrical musicianship (Astrid wielding her drum sticks is a sight to behold). They're also fabulous dancers, as they proved during the evening's encore, a song about a robot who thinks he's a lion that featured Otto on a portable electric keyboard and Astrid on cowbell (!).

Astrid and Otto are guileless performers, so much fun to watch because it's clear they are having as much fun themselves. Indeed, the back and forth between the performers and audience felt genuinely warm, especially during a sequence in which Otto referenced the Vancouver invention of the plastic banana protector.

Kunst Rock is the perfect summertime show, light, breezy, hilarious, and with an infectious beat. Kudos to the Cultch for launching their 2011/12 season early, and with such a winning piece.


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