Performance poet Lisa Buscani’s tumultuous word jams can bring the chaos of urban life into pinpoint focus. But after she watched a videotape of her last full-length solo performance, the linguistically torrential Carnivale Animale, she decided that her virtuoso wordplay was “ineffective.” Her new piece, At That Point: Humans at Their Best and Worst, opens with nothing but short sentence fragments and an endlessly repeated “OK.” In a world where solo performers carve out marketable ruts for themselves–could Spalding Gray, Jackie Mason, or even Laurie Anderson ever surprise us again?–Buscani’s overhaul of her own technique may seem risky, especially since she’s preparing to relocate to the product-crazed art world of New York. But her gamble has paid off in a work that surpasses its predecessor. Buscani’s deceptively simple scenarios of potential transformation–waiting at the altar for the groom, waiting to break up with a long-term lover, waiting for the results of an HIV test–suggest that her characters ache for a meaningful right of passage. Yet the world around them sees change as uninteresting at best, a medical pathology at worst. A girl’s first menses, for example, is rewarded with a cold speculum from an indifferent gynecologist. The girl’s mother, by contrast, embodies the changeless world: her periods are so regular her womb could double as a watch. In At That Point predictability keeps the world safe but robs it of meaningful surprises. It’s a lesson more solo performers should take to heart. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, 327-6666. Saturday, August 19, 10:30 PM. $7.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Yael Routtenberg.