One of the more fetching images from Philippe Quesne’s “La Mélancolie des Dragons,” the closing show in Walker Art Center’s annual Out There series of experimental works, comes near the end of the 90-minute performance. Six people — five long-haired rockers and a mature woman — dance around the stage under an inflated plastic bag that looks like a giant bladder.
Don’t envy the dancers’ giddiness and joy. They’ve earned it after a long, slow buildup in this somewhat absurd and sometimes clever anti-consumerist show.
The premise of “La Mélancolie” is whimsical. The metalheads — in a Volkswagen Rabbit and a trailer behind the car — are on their way to a gig. But it’s not a concert, per se. They are doing a pop-up, do-it-yourself theme park.
If a Disney theme park is about sensory overload, “La Mélancolie des Dragons” offers its opposite. The show is languid, too much so at times.
It takes a long time to get going, as the four men in the Volkswagen — which looks like it has been frozen in time in a place blanketed with snow — drink beer and pass chips while playing music by the likes of Iron Maiden and the Scorpions. Finally, one of the men gets out of the car and goes to the trunk. He brings back a rubber dinosaur. The four men play with it while continuing to listen to music and eat chips and drink.
It turns out that things have come to a halt because their vehicle has broken down. Isabelle (Isabelle Angotti), a curious woman, arrives on the scene by bicycle. She turns out to be a repairwoman who has come to see about the car (the necessary parts won’t be available for a while).
Isabelle asks the men about their trailer and their lives, becoming a stand-in for the audience. The rockers give her a guided tour of their low-tech inventiveness, which becomes the sum of the show.
The trailer, for one, is multifarious. It’s a kitchen, a library, a place to sleep — not to mention an installation where seven wigs hang. Fog and lighting conjure up invisible men in an image that’s imaginative and witty.
The men show Isabelle a projector. “We use it to project images, and sometimes words,” one tells her in French-accented English.
Quesne’s production gently pokes fun at itself, and at the performance-art world. Still, the vision for “La Mélancolie des Dragons” is a small one. The show is obsessed with little details as it seeks to deflate the overload so rampant in the world.