Theater offstage

“This is the Main Theatre, right?”

The boxy, undecorated room with its tiny stand of bleachers hardly seemed Main Theatre quality. There were exposed catwalks and lights overhead, but the usher assured ticket-holders that this was the place to see Poodle Postcard, the new multimedia dance show by the University of California, Davis, Department of Theatre and Dance. So, the patrons settled onto the bleachers and looked out at the stage.

There was no stage. There were only rows of seats, like the inside of a movie theater as seen from the screen. The dancers appeared. There were nearly 20 of them, dressed in a fantastic mishmash of corsets, face paint, vinyl, top hats and other trappings of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. They filed into the seats facing the audience and sat down expectantly. Suddenly, the unfinished surroundings—the portable bleachers, the overhead lights—made sense. The performers were in the theater seats. The audience was onstage.

The dancers stared at the audience. The audience stared back.

Then a booming voice announced that Poodle Postcard, the most famous band in the history of the world, had returned from the dead for a final concert. The six members of the fictitious Poodle Postcard assembled on a raised platform between the dancers and the audience. Dressed in wild costumes reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the band members held no instruments. They struck a pose and froze. Their fans (the dancers) went wild in their seats. They screamed. They cried. They tore their hair.

The music began. The dancers rolled out of their seats, crawled in the aisles, climbed each other, tore off their clothes, slid over seatbacks and danced on every available surface. When the music stopped, they faced front and clapped for the band, which hadn’t moved since the song’s beginning. Then the band struck a different pose. A new song came on, and the dancers started moving again. The cycle repeated, with ever-varying choreography.

Poodle Postcard the production was created by visiting London choreographer Lea Anderson. From the reversed seating plan to the constantly changing lighting, it was an amazing, disorienting tribute to the effect of art and performance on fans. Unfortunately, if you haven’t seen Poodle Postcard yet, you’ve already missed it. The production’s five-day run ended Sunday.

Last week’s other costume-saturated, performance-art spectacle was a guerrilla fashion show held at an undisclosed Midtown location. More than 200 stylish Sacramentans braved the rainy Saturday night to see models strut to recorded music, wearing original clothes by local designers like Olivia Coelho and Star Luna. There’s no word on a reprise of Poodle Postcard, but the guerrilla fashion show will return this summer. Watch for updates.