When we go to a baseball game, we hope to become a brief part of the action; we're on the lookout for the foul ball. When we go to the theater, however, we expect to observe, to remain safely in the dark cocoon of the audience. Though it's not necessarily a bad turn of events to become part of the show, it is surprising.
It becomes evident early on that "Voca People," an off-Broadway show, relies heavily on audience participation. Painfully evident.
Seconds after I whispered to my daughter that I really hoped they did not pick me -- a few people had already been brought into the spotlight -- naturally one of them did. I pretended to not notice. I glanced behind me to see if the actor was (please, God) pointing at someone else, anyone else. No. The show stopped, and we all know that the show must go on.
And so I reluctantly stood and walked down the stairs so one of the Voca People could put a hand over my head and pretend to read my thoughts: "Sex-sex-sex!" they sang. I had to change seats with another woman, who was the initial part of this gag, and later was allowed to return to my seat.
"Voca People" features eight people with decent voices. They wear white suits, white shoes, white gloves, white shirts and white bonnets that cover their ears. Thick, white pancake makeup, brows colored black, and lips coated with red lipstick complete their look.
The plot is simple: They're aliens whose spaceship crashes on Earth. They can fuel their space engine only with our music. So they take us on a tour of Earth music.
They make all of the music with their mouths. No musicians are involved.
Surely there are people who appreciate those who beat box; then there is the rest of the world. This is along the lines of there must be someone, somewhere, who likes mimes.
In case this is not obvious, this happens off-Broadway at Westside Theatre, upstairs, the perfect locale for this. To be fair, I didn't hate it. I didn't even dislike it, and the actors work so hard and are so earnest, it's impossible to not appreciate their efforts. But I'm mixed as to whether they should be encouraged.
Many in the small theater had a grand time, and the singers are clever with their voices and move well together. But the play itself is immature, in need of character development, and more of a plot to stitch together the random songs.
With their bonnets hiding their ears, they looked like Teletubbie mimes, which is not something anyone should emulate. Ever.
Photo/Video credit: Leon Sokoletski