by Joshua Jones
Unfortunately, Pandemonium is coming to an end only two weeks after the tour began in Miami. Today, the producers announced that after Sunday's performance, the remainder of the tour will be canceled. As reported this afternoon in the Chicago Tribune, the producers cited the "current economic climate" as making it "unrealistic" to continue with it further. It's not a surprising decision, given that Memorial Auditorium was only filled to about one quarter of its 2,277-seat capacity last night, despite ticket prices that were slashed from $61 to $30 on the high end, and from $20 to $15 on the low end.
All of this is too bad, because this is a pretty decent show. A 25-member troupe takes on a dazzling array of unfamiliar-looking instrumentation to do something more than just the rhythmic fascinations of Stomp. They create an environment of breath and sound that transcends their original work while still paying homage to its roots.
Voicing and the arrangement of the instruments are both vital to the performance. However, the instruments are not quite instruments as we know them. They operate on the same principles of resonance as trumpets, marimbas or violins but this show's version of those instruments is very interesting. The trumpets are made from variously sized road cones and funnels, which are attached to lengths of tubing. The marimbas are slats of wood held by several performers running back and forth across the stage each rhythmically presenting their specific key to a mallet wielding marimba player in a perfectly synchronized dance. And the violins are the eerie transpositions of the common work saw being bent and manipulated by its artist with a bow.
Cresswell and McNicholas also test the boundaries of voice when utilizing the skills of The Concert Singers of Cary to belt out tones which seem more percussive than vocal. When all of these instruments are put together, a music machine is born which is reminiscent of a calliope at a funeral dirge in a not-yet-conceived Tim Burton film.
And come to think of it, maybe Tim Burton is the man to revive this intriguing, but soon to be silenced, production.