Review: Gotham City (Chicago Dance Crash)

| June 9, 2012
Julian Devine, Chantelle Mrowka - Chicago Dance Crash, Gotham City       
Gotham City 

Written by Mark Hackman  
Choreographed by Jessica Deahr
DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru July 15  |  tickets: $25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Brilliant physical depiction of city from sunset to sunrise


David Ingram, Melissa Metro, Jonathan Broadus, Keeley Morris, Daniel Gibson, Jahmilah Alazam, Al Tamper

Chicago Dance Crash presents
Gotham City

Review by K.D. Hopkins

Yes- it is that Gotham City being portrayed in this ebullient and razor sharp performance. Mark Hackman’s story is a tornado of anime and post-apocalypse America seen with a Kafkaesque lens. The DCA Storefront Theater is a black canvas for the Chicago Dance Crash troupe’s world premiere production. Billowing fog illuminates the darkness, as the audience is witness to two acts of a city from sunset to sunrise.

Pavel Tabutov, Taylor Stewart, Daniel Gibson - Gotham City, Chicago Dance Crash

As a member of Chicago Dance Crash introduces the show, a voice invades and counts down the start of Sunset in Gotham City. The speaker is given five seconds to exit the stage and is immediately immersed in a dark world. Ladies of questionable virtue stroll through the streets. Thieves, thugs, and a militia police force storm the stage. The story follows a jewel thief (Julian Devine) and a pickpocket (Chantelle Mrowka) navigating the world after sunset and falling in what could be called love.

The choreography is beautifully reminiscent of Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp. The movements are fluid as silk, segueing into spasmodic synchronicity. Choreographer Jessica Deahr blends contemporary dance with music from the masters of trip hop, brilliant rockers such as Jack White, and cinema composer Hans Zimmer.  Deahr paints a canvas of violent beauty and redemption. Brilliant.

The lovers clash against the police led by the amazing David Chase in a bravura performance. Chase seethes and prowls the stage as a thug-turned-cop, who is consumed by power and tries to rule Gotham’s night world. The performance is fearless as he does dead falls from his head that cause the audience to gasp and barely recover. The movements are break dancing gone nova.

Gotham City is also populated by a league of clowns led by The Jester (Brian Humpherys). In another bravura performance, Humpherys exudes the manic brilliance of a clown leading a Danse Macabre to rule the night.

Chantelle Mrowka - Gotham City, Chicago Dance Crash Chloe Crade - Chicago Dance Crash, Gotham City
Erin Clyne, Mary Tarpley, Kristin Vollmer - Gotham City Erin Clyne, Taylor Stewart - Gotham City, Chicago Dance Crash

Mary Tarpley and Charlie Cutler play The Tourists in what seems at first a jolting departure but melds into a motif of bondage and discipline. Tarpley plays a severe and demanding wife to Cutler’s meek milquetoast husband. The music and movements lean into Fosse and Teutonic movements that evoke a power struggle against society.

There are no protagonists or antagonists in this Darwinian struggle. The voice of Big Mother looms overhead: in a soothing yet menacing tone, she speaks of electric storms and dangerous temperature variations, bringing to mind the automated voices on the other end of every corporate phone call.

I loved each and every character and felt drawn into the movements. This is a hot show that should be seen by everyone. Be prepared to be inspired if by nothing else than a yearning to bend and move like these artists. Put down the ice cream and go see this show. It’s hot fun in the summertime on Randolph!

Rating: ★★★½

Gotham City continues through July 15th at DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25, and are available by phone (312-742-8497) or online through (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 2 hours with one 10-minute intermission. This production is intended for mature audiences.)

Photos by John W. Sisson, Jr. 




Brian Humpherys (The Jester), Mary Tarpley and Charlie Cutler (The Tourists), David Chase (Chase), Julian Devine (Kerry), Chantelle Mrowka (Laurel), Chloe Crade (The Ice Queen), Kareem R. Dixon and Keeley Morris (The Thieves), Jahmilah Alazam, Jonathan Broadus, Paul Christiano, Erin Clyne, Emily Coughlin, Daniel Gibson, Denita Gregory, Becky Hutt, Kaitlin Webster Keegan, John Kolovos, Melissa Metro, Sarah Atenhan, Emily Sarkissian, Taylor Stewart, Pavel Tabutov, Al Tamper, Kristin Vollmer

behind the scenes

Jessica Deahr (choreographer); Lauren Girard, Allison Raynes (stage managers); Mike Goebel, Joshua Paul Weckesser (lighting); Brian Sauer (set design); Laura Maceika (tattoo design); Shaska Dice (original vocals); Mike Hero, Zachary Drummond, (vocal recording); John W. Sisson, Jr. (photos)

John Kolovos, Al Tamper, Julian Devine, Daniel Gibson, Gotham City


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Category: 2012 Reviews, Chicago Dance Crash, Dance, DCA Theatre, K.D. Hopkins, New Work, Storefront Theatre, World Premier

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