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  • Benjamin Kasulke
With spinning bodies, twirling rifles, and contorted limbs, the performers in Dayna Hanson’s Gloria’s Cause tell histories we know and histories we don’t. Not stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, but glimpses—of humor, insecurity, bravado, inebriation, secrets, and rabid devotion.

The show’s loaded historical images are inhabited by bodies that exceed them. There’s the feathered headdress, worn by King Hendrick (Peggy Piacenza), the Mohawk leader negotiating land rights in a modern boardroom as colonists get bored and ask if there will be food at the meeting. There’s the soldier’s uniform, worn by Deborah Samson Gannett (Jessie Smith, of Dead Bird Movement and locust), who fought as a man in the Revolutionary War and later challenged George Washington for her hard-earned pension. There’s the bald eagle, worn as a tight face mask on a woman in a trench coat, which is soon dropped to the floor to reveal a bright red bra and underwear, as she dances in heels and waxes philosophical about freedom, revolution, and human connection—her movements and words speeding up into gibberish until she collapses on a set of steps, spotlit and covered in shadows of stars. There’s George Washington’s wooden teeth, worn on a beyond-drunk George as he confronts one of his officers on a trashy talk show, circling the chairs, stumbling, blaming others for his mistakes, being human. There are tricorne hats, worn by the founding fathers as they draft the Declaration of Independence (three men on round pedestals, bent over at the hips, voices thrown and distorted to convey a multitude of men)—it’s not the stilted, dry deliberation we imagine; it’s behind the scenes—they hem and haw, flippantly joke, then finally settle on a prestigious-sounding tone: “When in the course of human events…”

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Backed by a full band (played by rotating members, including, impressively, each of the dancers at some point), this show is enthralling and hilarious and beautiful and confusing in the certain way that only the best performances are. You will dream of eagles in heels and George Washington doing the robot.

It’s only playing this weekend, so go! There’s a show tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm.