October 1, 2015

“Tabac Rouge,” a work of dance-drama by the acclaimed French director and performer James Thierrée, achieves the signal feat of giving both dance and drama a bad name. Mr. Thierrée’s grim, fuzzy vision of a dystopic society ruled by a very grouchy fellow occasionally strains for a sliver of humor — and even less occasionally achieves a laugh — but it mostly just offers overwrought flailing, jerking and crawling in place of expressive choreography, and a black hole where the drama might reside. The production, at the Howard Gilman Opera House of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is directed, designed and choreographed by Mr. Thierrée, who impresses only in his elaborate and imposing scenery. The set, trimmed in mechanical-looking detritus, is dominated by a giant wall that plays a prominent, quasi-symbolic role in the proceedings. On one side is a maze of scaffolding up which performers occasionally scamper; on the other is a patchwork of tarnished mirrors. This mirrored wall tilts and slides and hovers, thundercloud-like, over the proceedings, like some inescapable promise of doom. Often it virtually upstages the frantic activity reflected in those mirrors.