A scene from Digging in the Dark
A scene from Digging in the Dark
In their latest show, Digging in the Dark, now playing at the American Theatre of Actors, the dancers of the San Francisco-based troupe Capacitor go deep into the Earth's crust for an interpretive excavation. They perform acrobatics inside a rotating sphere, descend on harnesses like graceful and flamboyant archaeologists, and demonstrate gravity by defying it in various ways. In moments like these, the troupe finds fun and interesting ways to demonstrate difficult scientific concepts, taking us through each planetary layer in 13 separate movements. Unfortunately, the production as a whole suffers from an overly serious tone.

All of the performers are very talented, and they demonstrate their athletic abilities with impressive flips and twirls. A very young company, they flaunt their toned bodies in skimpy, shiny costumes that are beautifully designed by Monique Kapp. Still, the remarkable feats and striking poses choreographed by artistic director Jodi Lemask only capture our attention for so long. The distinct personalities of the dancers never emerge, partly because the self-consciously artistic tone of Digging in the Dark doesn't allow them any lighter moments. A little humor would go a long way toward making the show more successful.

Capacitor has been hailed by some critics as the next Blue Man Group, but they would be more accurately compared to the emerging troupe Lava, whose similarly themed show [w]HOLE ran earlier this year at the Flea. However, Capacitor's unique multimedia display does set it apart from other companies. Video designers Tony Grisey, Steven Vargas, and Dan Zox project original graphics and footage onto a screen in the background, including titles of each movement and diagrams of each layer of Earth. In a couple of the funkier scenes, the vibrations from feet and bouncing objects onstage cause visible waves on the background screen.

Yet there are some puzzling images, such as what appears to be film of the wreckage of the Twin Towers. The company may be trying to make a point about man-made versus natural disasters, but it's done so quickly as to seem glib. This is just one of the disappointing, misguided decisions that makes Digging in the Dark a less than enlightening theatrical experience.