By Peter Wear
An exercise in dance, comedy and technology, The Mitch Show packed a dizzying punch of entertainment last Saturday night. An at-capacity Hill Theater buzzed with anticipation for the show, named for its creator and star, Mitchell Rose. Over the course of the two-hour performance, The Mitch Show ran the gamut of entertainment possibilities, featuring lederhosen, a trip to the O.K. Corral alongside mutants and a mixture of short films and participation-driven activities that kept the lively audience in a perpetual state of laughter.
Rose, a professor of dance and filmmaking at the Ohio State University, has brought iterations of The Mitch Show around the world, acting as a Cultural Envoy for the U.S. State Department during a tour through Kosovo as well as performing at schools, universities, and prisons as a resident artist for the Cultural Council Foundations CETA Artists Project. If you want a moment-by-moment evaluation of your dance, do it in prison, he said about the experience. Rose, who attended Tufts University planning on a career in electrical engineering, eventually took a dance class and decided that his passion lay in the arts instead, becoming the institutions first dance major.
Rose kicked things off with a humorous examination of body language with Learn to Speak Body, a segment that parodied instructional videos of yesteryear by dissecting everyday movement. Examining how a jutting hip and eye roll can be read as Oh my God, and how an open palm indicates I have no weapon, the skit, like much of Roses material, served a slice of commentary alongside the ample dose of laughter. Rose next launched into Process of Elimination, an audience participation skit that began the shows unremitting momentum.
Weaving together videos and interactive shorts, The Mitch Show proved to be a welcome and eclectic mix of media and performance. Rose, who directs, writes and edits all of his video pieces, featured short films that were comprised of animation, acting and dance. Many examined the relationship between humanity and technology. One such film, Elevator World, an animated short, featured a utopian world all within the confines of an elevator. Films shown later in the evening such as Deere John and Islands in the Sky featured humans dancing within construction equipment, to humorous and surreal effect. Closing the section dedicated to his choreographed videos was Advance, a visually arresting short film that featured dancers marching through interposed landscapes while performing a routine.
Although the video shorts were strong, the true high points of the evening were the ones that allowed the audience to come onstage and be a part of the creation process. Podpeople: Malibu Mutants at the O.K. Corral starred five students as travelers through the space-time continuum, a segment that provoked the most laughter from the lively audience. The penultimate act, titled Follow the Leder(hosen) also proved to be one of the most entertaining skits of the evening. Dedicated to, in Roses words, the outdoor spirit of Gambier, the segment featured Rose donning lederhosen and leading a pack of 14 audience members arranged in a pyramid formation through an intricate and amusing dance routine set to an upbeat ode to exploration.
And while the evening was filled with lighthearted dance and entertainment, Roses material also probed at deeper societal constructions and the relationships that people develop with innovation. During the question-and-answer session after the show, Rose said, Technology is the compliment that goes next to performance and makes it seem more human to me.