The show is called Slider, and with good reason. The six cast members wear rock climbers’ helmets on their heads and hard plastic protectors on their knees and wrists—the sort of gear skateboarders don to protect themselves during extreme maneuvers. After a running start, they go skidding on their hands and knees across a broad concrete floor, sometimes crashing into each other like a human demolition derby. They don’t call this “physical theater” for nothing.Abandon Productions’ Slider is one of artistic director Doniel Soto’s more plot-driven, less-abstract works. It’s focused on a single life, and not only are there words, but there also are bits of linear, spoken narrative. The story is frequently dark but not altogether bleak. It begins in the 1940s, when Slider, a tough teenage girl, walks out on her abusive parents, gets a job as a firefighter and then loses her heart to a gentle, beautiful girl. The love interest’s parents break off the relationship by having Slider beaten—a hard scene to watch. But Slider (Dana Hudson, wearing a squint and scowl that would do Clint Eastwood proud) bounces back from this and other setbacks. She may bear scars, but she’s a determined survivor who finds some peace in life.
As the 75-minute show skims through five decades of Slider’s life, we’re treated to several of the hallmarks we’ve come to associate with Soto’s work, including layered a cappella vocals and images conjured through intertwined limbs and torsos. There are two births, a drowning at sea, a 1940s talent show, a Christmas dinner, a funeral and a fire scene in which Michael McCleary and David Rodrigues catch Hudson in their arms as she drops from a height. No safety net, as usual.