Thursday, March 12, 2020

Seven Sins

Company XIV cast of Seven Sins. Photo by Mark Shelby Perry.
Seven Sins by Company XIV, their most cohesive production to date, tells the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace and the introduction of the seven deadly sins using three narrators. Cemiyon Barber/Scott Schneider (Adam) and Emily Stockwell/Danielle J.S. Gordon (Eve) unfold the tale through movement, while Amy Jo Jackson as The Devil dominates with strong vocals and a hedonistic presence — her non-apologetic Satan embraces every bit of sequined avarice.

Stockwell* towers over Barber and when they dance, it exposes a lovely awkwardness: a subtle nod to humanity’s flaws and life’s inequity amid the beauty of their gestures. Eve — created by Adam’s rib, in a Vegas-like bit where Adam gets sawed in half and she magically appears in a cage — possesses a gangliness that contrasts with Barber’s sleekness. After a glittery snake, carried by a team of acolytes in bondage wear, introduces the apple, the two awkwardly remove ugly transparent costumes that emphasize their naked body parts, struggle with their nudity in a frantic fig leaf dance and, ultimately, join most of the vices onstage.

Some of the pair’s participation is integral to the number like when Lust (a provocative Lilin) shimmies over a blindfolded Adam in an elaborate lap dance. In others, for instance when Sloth (Troy Lingelbach) twists acrobatically over them as they sit sedately in a bathtub, offer less insight into story — giving spectacle rather than showing Adam and Eve’s evolution as both adapt to this new world full of temptations.

While Director/Choreographer Austin McCormick always creates inventive and entertaining productions, his work can lack emotional impact and a smoothness in storytelling. Even past pieces with well-known storylines, such as Cinderella and Snow White, slip into periodic vacuity when pageantry becomes more important than its characters. Seven Sins, however, provides real resonance, especially when using Adam and Eve as more than mere stand-ins, raising the bar for McCormick’s work and pushing beyond the litany of provocative acts. A pas de deux by the Eden outcasts near the end, for instance, is lovingly done, evoking a closeness of the couple and a yearning for what they’ve lost: a truly moving moment.

Seven Sins continues Company XV’s signature burlesque that mostly succeeds. Marcy Richardson, always a powerhouse, embodies Greed as she embraces the ultimate stripper pole and blends opera with an appreciation for her leanness and grace. Nolan McKew and Troy Lingelbach as Jealousy show athleticism as they try to outdo each other while suspended over the audience. More hokey is the Gluttony number that goes on for several segments and showcases silly posturing with plastic foods and an over-the-top can-can. Still, the blend of low- and high-brow entertainment embodies what Company XV provides in all of their shows — where else can you see such a collection of opera, nudity, dance, cabaret and circus acts?

The show runs through Oct. 31 (383 Troutman St., Bushwick, Brooklyn) Thursday-Sunday. Two hours with two intermissions. New Serpent VIP seating is available, and includes a variety of snacks, drinks and tableside entertainment. Tickets start at $85 and range from $245-$295 for VIP seating. For more information, see:

*in the Thursday night performance seen by the reviewer