If we didn’t have Fringes we would have to invent them, because performances like Body Language II: Phys. Ed. are the natural children of this wrong-side-of-the-bed conjuncture of ideas. There’s no way conventional theater would bring about Body Language performances.
These productions don’t even play in conventional theaters. They settle into whatever’s handy and appropriate, in this case the gym at the downtown Cincinnati YWCA. In its inaugural outing at last year’s Fringe, Body Language wandered upstairs and downstairs at the old School for the Performing Arts. True Body Project recently worked with the Brooklyn Museum in New York City for an adaptation of the earlier production and another is underway in Los Angeles, so the idea has legs.
The concept is to interview people about how they view their bodies, then turn their insights into a telling pastiche that amuses and informs and hits us where we might not know we hurt.
There is a corps of cheerleaders, a game of Red Rover, an excruciating/hilarious venture into West Side Story music and action and a class in sex education that suggests the students have questions the teacher doesn’t want to answer — although he probably could, as we have seen him with a student’s mother in flirty dalliance on the balcony that circles the gym half way up.
Costumes are eclectic, as in actual high school. Sneakers are preferred footwear, except for the girl in heels and the barefoot guy. The heels girl eventually goes barefoot. The students are types, not individuals, the better to deal with typical emotions. So we have the fat girl, the shy guy, the flaming gay, the “OK!” girl, the mother’s boy and others. It’s shorthand, and it works.
The ending is contagiously upbeat — after all, we’re all out of high school, aren’t we? — and includes dancing by the cast and any one in the audience who cares to join.
Performed at YWCA through June 5. See performance dates and preview here.