The phrase “artistic blind date” is full of implication, suggesting not only that the matchmakers at Cultural DC put these artists together at the outset of their collaboration but that we may be in for a hell of a time, and not always in a good way. After all, we approach blind dates with a patina of apprehension attached to our sense of adventure. It might work out, but it might be calamitous.
No? I once had a blind date with someone who told me that it would have worked out better if she had actually been blind. Another time, after what I thought was a pleasant dinner, my date expressed her gratitude that I had put her in touch with her anger toward men. Ah, good times. But let me ask whether you’ve ever had a blind date like this:
The mechanical girl (Angela Pirko) is bent over at the waist, seemingly lifeless. Stitched up and bloody, her makeup seamlessly blends into her wounds. She is at one end of a room festooned with the debris of childhood: ratty dolls (including demolished, naked Barbies), jacks-in-the-boxes, and televisions tuned to static. Suddenly she lurches to herky, jerky life. She opens the door to what is marked the “Electrical Room” (I always wondered whether I was to take that title literally) and out slithers – an evil clown (Cory Oberndorfer).
They stalk around the room. They grab the jacks-in-the-boxes, and begin to play. We hear “All around the mulberry bush” – over and over again, about a million times. They approach us in the audience, holding the boxes out, and then snatch them away from us.
Then the tap dancer (Quynn Johnson) begins.
Uncle Cory’s Secret Playtime . An Artistic Blind Date from the Source Festival
Featuring Theater Artist Angela Pirko, Visual Artist Cory Oberndorfer, and Dancer/choreographer Quynn Johnson, all of whom designed this piece collaboratively
Running time: 16 minutes
Source Festival at
1835 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Produced by CulturalDC’s Source Festival
Reviewed by Tim Treanor
Come to think of it, I did have a blind date like that. But that’s not the point. The point is that Uncle Cory’s Secret Playtime is people scaring the bejesus out of each other, and then scaring the tap dancer. This allows Uncle Cory to serve its intended role as commentary on Perfect Arrangement, Topher Payne’s full-length play about a gay couple and a lesbian couple “passing” for straight in the 1950s. I haven’t seen Perfect Arrangement yet – it debuts on Friday – but I can believe that fear is a mighty engine in it.
So I have the same advice for watching Uncle Cory’s Secret Playtime as I did for another artistic blind date, Momentum, Interrupted, which comments on Lake Untersee: see the full-length play first, and then, to get a different take on it, go see this.