If the current Hollywood trend of remaking every beloved movie from your childhood (often badly) has you agonizing over your entertainment options, Trip the Dark has a solution: Go see the movie as a dance instead. On June 16 and 17 at North Portland’s Headwaters Theatre, you can catch the final performances of The Goblin King, which retells ’80s classic Labyrinth not just once, but three times—through the eyes of Sarah, King Jareth, and Hoggle.
In true Bowie fashion, gender is fluid and so are the characters. No one person plays a single role: Instead, the parts are shared (and sometimes multiplied) and indicated through costuming. Rather than rely on the spectacle and special effects of a big budget, this show goes full-on DIY. It occasionally employs props and set pieces (including some delightfully squishy ones), but some of the best scenes are staged using the dancers’ bodies.
The choreography is creative, showing off the dancers’ technical skills and keeping the audience in awe of their abilities. But the most engaging moments are the ones when the dancers are fully in character, and the more fun the company is having, the better the show gets—crawling through a forest of human legs must be as fun as it is to witness.
And it would be difficult not to have a ton of fun with the soundtrack. If you love David Bowie and his contemporaries, the music alone is a draw. Since the story is told three times, there are plenty of covers and alternative tracks that prove to be huge crowd-pleasers. I overheard some excitement over the program, too, which included a list of songs used so that audience members could look them up and enjoy them after the show.
I should warn you: There is no bulge displayed on this stage, which should set most of you at ease. Also, no company members seem to have Bowie’s glass ball-juggling skills, though the skill in the way they use their bodies to juggle is a joy to watch. Much as a musician makes a cover song great by bringing their own flavor to it, these folks make great shows by spicing up classic stories with their own special craft of dance.
Trip the Dark describes themselves as an “indie” company for people who “don’t usually watch dance performances,” and they do a stellar job of catering to that audience. If you don’t go to dance shows because you “don’t know dance,” that’s no excuse not to see The Goblin King. It’s the whole point.