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Review: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society’s "Real Enemies"

Brooklyn premiere of multimedia work inspired by conspiracy theories

Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015
Darcy James Argue Secret Society, BAM Harvey Theater, Brooklyn, Nov. 2015

In promo blasts, composer Darcy James Argue has always referred to his bandmates in Secret Society as “co-conspirators.” It was perhaps inevitable that this tongue-in-cheek motif would blossom into an elaborately staged multimedia work inspired by conspiracy theories, “Real Enemies,” which runs Nov. 18-22 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater.

Taking its title from Kathryn S. Olmsted’s 2009 book Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11, Argue’s piece was co-conceived with writer and director Isaac Butler and film designer Peter Nigrini. The execution was impeccable: Argue’s 18-piece band roared and whispered through 12 brutally dissonant yet often beautiful movements, with the leader standing in the middle of a large doomsday clock and the band arrayed around him in a semicircle. The funky, swinging, sometimes Latin-tinged music, the minimal choreography, the lighting and scenery (by Maruti Evans), even the band’s old-school suits, trench coats, fedoras and aqua-tinted dresses (costumes by Sydney Maresca): All of it was unrelentingly creepy.

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