Intimacy appeals in Joe Goode’s ‘Poetics of Space’

Despite the lofty title, there aren’t many huge revelations about the nature of space in Joe Goode Performance Group’s newest production “Poetics of Space.”

Granted, the site-specific piece in the warehouse-like Joe Goode Annex is different from most shows: About 60 audience members stand throughout the shape-shifting, hour-long presentation. At times they may follow their own path into a cranny of the curtained and sectioned, multi-level space. At times, they may bump into a whirling performer – or a performer will come up and touch them. The intimacy is appealing.

Yet the overall effect is less fulfilling than that of the outrageously original “Traveling Light,” Goode’s 2009 piece set in San Francisco’s Old Mint that became a truly unique experience for each patron, its text, movement, music and set design prompting contemplation and meditation about space, time and the meaning of life.

“Poetics,” telling a story of sorts about a beautiful, divided soul named Logan (part boxer, part silent-screen diva) who died too soon, doesn’t evoke particularly deep feelings — even though Goode and his wildly attired actors/dancers tell (rather than show) the tale with commitment and skill.

There are moments of amusement: Goode himself, appearing as a representative of death and offering an introduction at the outset, perched on a ladder high above the viewers in the lounge, where the show begins.

After a brief stroll outside, the audience is led inside a dark room, where two mannequin-like characters shrouded in greenery appear behind glass. It’s fun, like a haunted house.

Seconds later, the pair moves among the patrons, who then move to another, larger room, where the majority of the piece transpires.

Key to “Poetics of Space” is the multifaceted set (along with various rooms, there’s a catwalk) by Sean Riley, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and costumes by Jennifer Gonsalves. (One appealing character wearing a metallic Mylar wig, vest and loincloth invited me for a chat in a small section of the space fashioned into a nifty diorama.)

REVIEW
Poetics of Space
Presented by Joe Goode Performance Group

Where: Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; closes Nov. 1
Tickets: $40 to $70
Contact: (866) 811-4111, www.joegoode.org

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