Sensible Footwear retraces its steps on PerfNet stage
by CHRISTOPHER POTTER
NEWS ARTS WRITER
Performance Network Executive Director Johanna Broughton says it best. "When you have a show that produces a super high demand, you have to bring it back."
That's why the British-spawned, Canadian-based "comedic feminist terrorists" Sensible Footwear makes its third Ann Arbor appearance in four months with a brand new, revue-style show opening Thursday at the Network.
A warning to the uninitiated-beware unguided flying expletives! Sensible Footwear members Alex Dallas, Wendy Vousden and Allison Field revel in savaging any topic-especially the often chasmatic gap dividing the sexes-using any language they choose.
One Canadian critic was floored by Footwear's "saw-blade satire," while another called their words-and-music shw "raunchy, smutty and utterly disgusting. I loved it."
This critic must confess he didn't love Footwear's ultra-sardonic comedy when the group first appeared in October. (The trio's second appearance was at the Network's benefit concert, "Raise the Roof," in December). Yet there's no denying the coordinated artistry of this theatrically dynamic threesome.
Dallas, Vousden and Field are more than comedians. They're full-fledged actress-singer-philosophers who effortlessly segue from skit to song to machine gun-like wisecracks with fugue-like physical/vocal precision. Their pace is relentless, their timing-however one regards their bitterly topical subject matter-is breathtakingly perfect.
"They never cease to crack me up," says Broughton. "They've found the perfect marriage of comedy and theater, song and sketch. They're so talented in so many ways it enhances the strength with which they drive home their points."
Certainly Footwear touched a nerve with a multitude of Ann Arborites last October playing to a weekend's worth of packed houses at the Network. "The audiences absolutely loved them," says Broughton. "Every show was standing-room only and one night I had to turn away about three dozen people.
"I think one secret to their success is that no matter what they're telling us, they manage to put a funny twist on it regardless of how incendiary the subject might be."
None of "Footwear's" threesome boasts a performance background, the trio having met as amateurs at a women's theater festival in England some 12 years ago. The three women immediately hit it off, and boldly formed their own comedy act. "We were an immediate success," says Field, modestly adding "we never expected to become famous."
Broughton feels word-of-mouth is the best gauge of public acceptance.
"When I kept getting phone calls (last October) asking 'When are they coming back,' "When can we see them again?,' I knew they had made a major impression.
"All I can say is , reserve your tickets early."
Sensible Footwear: Allison Field, Wendy Vousden and Alex Dallas, at Performance Network this week.
Sensible Footwear performs Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 20-23 and 27-30, at Performance Network, 408 W. Washington St. Showtime is 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 general admission, $7 students and seniors. Thursday is Pay-What-You-Can Night. For reservations call 663-0681