BY CHARLES BATTERSBY | There is not a trace of irony in the premise of the show Seven Sins, the current offering from Company XIV, the innovative troupe whose exhilarating productions fuse circus, opera, and burlesque. Or rather, the irony is so deep that the audience is utterly immersed to the point that the irony cannot be seen. It is a burlesque performance based on Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and their ensuing knowledge of the seven deadly sins. Nearly all of those sins are in abundance during the performance—in the audience and, of course, on stage. Despite the sinful nature of the experience, no one should feel guilty for enjoying its decadence.
Audiences are likely to feel the sin of Pride before they even enter Théâtre XIV. Located in Bushwick, literally on the opposite side of the block from hip nightclub House of Yes, the audience can feel cool just by walking past the microbreweries, the vegan food trucks, and the beautiful people who hope their “Lewks” are fabulous enough to get into the clubs.
Once inside the venue, Pride’s sibling Vanity is abundant: Mirrors abound, and they are frequently pointed towards photogenic pieces of furniture which are suitable for couples to lounge on while snapping selfies. And yes, showing off this glamorous night out is the perfect way instill Envy in Instagram followers.
Not to be outdone, Greed makes an appearance before the show begins: Théâtre XIV is more of a cabaret than a theatre, and the audience can enjoy decadent snacks and cocktails before and during the performance (with an absinthe intermission, too). Some of the seats near the stage are private couches for two, with a premium ticket price that will no doubt elicit yet more Envy from the peasants seated in slightly less luxurious seats in back.
Naturally, Lust is ubiquitous at any proper burlesque show. Once again, this sin appears before the show actually starts, because the cast can be found around the theatre in their skimpy costumes as soon as the audience enters.
Once the show does begin, the audience witnesses Adam (Marcos Antonio) and Eve (Chanel Stone) in the Garden of Eden being tempted into committing the original sin. Following the expulsion from the garden, the Devil changes into anthropomorphic representations of the various sins. Each sin is played by a different performer, and with a different form of dance, or burlesque performance art.
It takes over two hours to explore all of them. Rage is an ironic start to the show, because the friendly, inviting atmosphere doesn’t instill any wrathfulness in the audience. For the segment of the show that specifically represents Lust, the show uses a belly dancer, but every segment of the show has scantily clad dancers and singers who will suit anyone’s lustful tastes. Gluttony is an odd sin for a cast made up of such fit dancers and aerialists. But the finale of the show involves a swarm of sexy dancers doing the can-can in pig masks, while cavorting with phallic foods.
The tale of Adam and Eve sends a mixed message. After all, the humans in the audience are all descended from these two original sinners. Without that original sin, there would be no one to enjoy this sinfully decadent extravaganza. The audience is essentially rooting for the sins, and this particular interpretation of the fable makes it easy to do so.
Company XIV’s ‘Seven Sins’ is performed at Théâtre XIV (383 Troutman St. Brooklyn) on select dates in July and beyond. For performance dates, reservations, and more, click here.
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