This Spy Surfs
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
September 20, 2005
This Spy Surfs is not a musical nor is it theatre. It was developed at the Slideshow Gallery in Williamsburg but it’s not much of a slide show either. It calls itself an “Instrumental Surf and Spy Opera.” To me it’s a band jamming in front of a large screen with swirly, acid-party patterns projected on it. (And of course the occasional 20-foot wave.)
There is a story but no action or dialogue. The text is projected on the screen and read by a computer voice. As far as I could discern, the story is about three spies—99, Op, and TM—who have been commissioned by the Surf Goddess of find the Uncertainty Man. The text was too abstract and mythical for me to follow (which is, I assume, the creators’ intention); the music is supposed to be "telling" the story. However, the music is so much of a single mood that I didn't feel that there was a story being told. The variations in the surf sounds are somewhat limited, and the spy (noir) sound is not utilized enough in this show.
Still, the music is really great. Guitarist T. Colburn is a master of the surf style and his energy on stage is seemingly limitless. Stone-faced bass and drum players B. Klay and M. Tucker (respectively) are fantastic musicians. Klay, for example, plays an electric upright bass that he slaps, bows and plucks for some great effects.
However, I felt sort of trapped. I wanted a drink and a bar to lean against.
This show would do well in a more open environment. But as it is, set in a theatre, with no action to follow and nothing really interesting on which to place my gaze, I began to think that perhaps I was Uncertainty Man—because uncertainty was primarily what I was feeling at This Spy Surfs.