THREE ACTS, TWO DANCERS, ONE RADIO HOST
September 14, 2014
Unlike the rounded, full bodies words of most radio personalities; a thin, reed-like voice skipped across the Public Radio airwaves. This was Ira Glass, host of "This American Life" in person at Town Hall during his amiable collaboration with Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes. Glass explained he made a conscious choice to "speak" naturally and tell everyday stories on his very popular NPR series. That concept matches the jokey dance duo—Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass—generally decked out in sneakers, casual outfits while looking like young girls bopping to pop tunes in front of a bedroom mirror.
The touring show, " Three Acts, Two dancers, One Radio Host" is a congenial marriage of the spoken word-- spoken by a professional, and some dancing, performed by professionals and one really awkward radio host. Ms. Barnes and Ms. Bass pull some of their best known works out of their choreographic trunk and re-fashion a couple to include the wordy, Glass.
Quickly admitting that he's more comfortable speaking about other people, some of the most effecting moments came when Glass recalled snippets from his shows. While standing in front of a junior high school dance, This American Life producers asked a young man what he hoped would happen that evening-- after a minute the young man replied that he just hoped nothing terrible would happen causing people to talk about him for next two months.
There was even a little couples' therapy tossed in when a young man (from This American Life) realizes his wife is his most important client, and "delivering what she wants" should be his main objective for a happy marriage.
Like the silent Teller -- in Penn & Teller-- Bass rarely speaks, but this time, in a recorded session with Glass, she confesses to a bit of healthy competition on stage. Generally, all the choreography is in unions, but each one makes different faces, or jabs the air sharper, maybe raise her leg higher. It works because they really look like two goofy girls (despite their 40'years) churning out modern dance steps smashed inside pop line dance routines to the sounds of James Brown.