Saturday, May 16, 2009

On-Stage: Go-Go Killers

It was a time when women were women and the men were girly. Actually, that time is ten years in the future, as envisioned through the prism of 1960’s exploitation film. Inspired by the work of soft-core auteur Russ Meyer, as well as more PG-rated girl gang fare, Go-Go Killers (trailer here) is an extravaganza of dancing, fighting, and male emasculation, now running at the Sage Theater, appropriately located in Times Square, the historic home of grindhouse cinema.

Of course, Times Square is respectable now, so the halter tops and hot pants stay safely donned. Go-Go is more about dancing and attitude than that other stuff. In 2019, the Tri-State area is largely a wasteland, except for Manhattan, where real estate prices never seem to fall. The rich get richer, but one by one, they are being assassinated by roving girl gangs. (In the exploitation tradition, the politics are kept simplistic to the point of self-parody.) Marietta falls in with one such gang, the Furies, after being violently cast aside by her jealous ex-fiancé Eugene St. Ives, the petulant son of the fourth richest man in the country.

As fortune would have it, Marietta quickly has the opportunity for some payback. The Furies have a mission to take out #4, and kidnap the ineffectual son Eugene as well as Nelson, their creepy family friend, who also happens to have a place on the top 50 list. Let the class warfare man-bashing begin, and dig that crazy beat.

Logically, the biggest attraction of Go-Go is the spirited go-go dancing, choreographed by director Rachel Klein. She stages the dance numbers with a high energy, groovy “boots-were-made-for-walking” retro charm. There are also some great dancers in the surprisingly large troupe, consisting of the Furies, their rival Gorgons, and distinct Gold and Silver Go-Gos. Elizabeth Stewart is a particular standout as Electra, the leader of the Furies, who whips her pony tail menacingly around, like a medieval morning-star.

It is safe to say dramatic realism is not really Go-Go’s goal, but there are definitely some charismatic performers on-stage, particularly Stewart, Jillaine Gill, and Reagan Wilson as Electra, Godiva, and Pandora, the original Furies. Although Go-Go is really about as risqué as Chicago playing right across Times Square, it embraces the subversive spirit of Meyer’s cult classics. More Roger Corman than Russ Meyer, it might sound like a guilty pleasure, but it is really more of a groovy nostalgia trip. Good clean camp, Go-Go runs Fridays and Saturdays through May 30th.

Photo credit: Lisa Soverino