by Samara Weiss · August 12, 2014
The Call of the Siren begins with a projection of a large, Batman-esque logo, and the play is very much like an old superhero comic come to life. A masked vigilante with a secret sorrow in her past jumps out of the midnight shadows at muggers, defeating them effortlessly with kicks and punches. By day, she labors in obscurity as a dancer and a waitress, but when one of her colleagues is killed in a hit-and-run, she becomes fixated on bringing the driver to justice.
The characters belong to such venerable classes as the sassy gal reporter, the hardbitten police chief, and the passionate young street organizer. They are outfitted in quasi-40s style, with costume designer Corey Moreno using brilliant touches of color to signal social affiliations. (Moreno also has a role in the play as a slightly more dubious character type: the effete foreigner. If you can overlook the negative historical baggage of this role, Moreno brings great flair to the part.) John Pope, as the earnest young boyfriend of the crash victim, and Kayla Eisenberg, as the vigilante's mouthy best friend, are notable.
As you might expect of a comic book of the type The Call of the Siren mirrors, the dialogue is earnest and fairly stilted, but manages to find laughs from time to time. In truth, the most winning parts of the play involve no dialogue at all: dance sequences punctuate the show, and they, together with very professional music composed by Anthony Serino and Alayna Whitten, provide the show with charm and elevation. There isn't much plausibility to the world of the play, as there seldom is with classic comic books. But when the dancing begins, the issue is moot.
Not all the actors are equally proficient dancers, and some of the better dancers are somewhat less accomplished as actors. Choreographer Ashley Delane Burger appears in a non-speaking role as the girl whose death obsesses the hero, dancing in a white dress. Some mellifluous New Jersey accents are employed, and none of the actors who attempt them stumble. There were a few literal stumbles at the performance I saw, but they were likely the result of the performers being new to the space (as all Fringe shows are), and I expect the problem will evaporate in later showings. The Call of the Siren calls back to the sequential art of days gone by, but the real strength of the show is the frequency with which we can watch people who love to dance do what they love.