How can I resist a theater/dance piece inspired by Oak Ridge, TN, birthplace of the atomic bomb? In 1942, over 70,000 workers, scientists and their families were moved to the town, home of the Manhattan Project. Writer and performer Jon Morris, best known for his work with Fuerzabruta and Cirque du Soleil, collaborated with the Danish physical theater company Terra Nova to create Atomic City. The piece uses music, voice, and movement to capture the secrecy and underlying violence in a town haunted by technological developments beyond their control. Humor draws the audience into the narrative, a tale of suspicion between two families, but the results are chilling. The choreography keeps pace with the changing tone.
The set, a 30' x 30' white Tyvek cube designed by New York–based architect Christian Wassman, contains the action on a swatch of green turf. In perhaps the best use of Molo Design's Soft Wall product, two walls expand and collapse—at times separating the stage into two discrete sections with the audience divided. Half the performance is concealed. Blindly-thrown water balloons are lobbed over the 20-foot-long wall and fall on the dancers like a real-time game of Battleship. The white wall itself is flexible and movable, it contorts with the same acuity as the dancers bodies, taking on meaning beyond a simple room divider.
Catch Atomic City at New York's La MaMa. Through September 28.