One second the house lights are on and the next it’s the stage lights. That’s all it takes for the audience to instantly quiet down. The five dancers of Lisbeth Gruwez’s AH/HA are already onstage – we could see them before, immobile in the darkness – but their bodies do not follow the switch in lighting; they are moving, we must eventually recognize, but so slowly that it is almost imperceptible.
As they congregate, they fist the air with such energy that their arms become blurred. They hold their smiles until they look downright creepy. It is only then that laughter becomes audible, enough to make the audience jump out of its skin, as the dancers laugh excessively, incessantly, until they are flirting with madness. Laughter is contagious, they say; and so it seems as audience members laugh at this exuberant display.
The yellow lighting that takes over the stage is so thick that it seemingly covers the performers’ faces with makeup, transforming their skin into wax that, mixed with their sweat, looks as though it’s melting. They look deformed, monstrous, grotesque. One of them squeals like a pig, or like a laughing person.
As they silently laugh in slow motion, the soundtrack should be loud enough to hide the sounds that their all-too-real bodies make in order to maintain the eeriness of the scene. Lionel Richie’s “Hello” comes through the speakers as the dancers walk towards us and the lights fade. The audience chuckles rather than laughs thanks to the tacky song, but AH/HA deserves a stronger ending, one that demonstrates the same level of commitment to its premise that the rest of the show did.
Januray 28-30 at 8pm
Tickets: 32$ / Students or 30 years old and under: 24$