Review: ‘Urban Scuba: Adult Swim’ at Brian Sanders’ JUNK

Part of the popular Urban Scuba Series, this year’s holiday offering by Brian Sanders’ JUNK is one that’s sure to land you on Santa’s naughty list! Urban Scuba: Adult Swim presents a sequence of saucy fantasies of what some libidinous grown-ups might really want for Christmas, as Artistic Director and Choreographer Sanders takes his troupe of four seductive dancers (Theodore Fatscher, William Robinson, Julia Higdon, and Jessica Daley) on a dumpster dive through updated segments of favorite shows from the past, along with the premiere of “Crushed Nuts” – an irreverent R-rated tribute to Tchaikovsky’s beloved family ballet The Nutcracker that is decidedly not for all ages.

Theodore Fatscher, Jessica Daley, and Julia Higdon. Photo by Ted Lieverman.
Theodore Fatscher (center), Jessica Daley, and Julia Higdon. Photo by Ted Lieverman.

Performed in a darkened setting illuminated by spotlights and colored stage lighting, the design creates a sensuous nocturnal dreamlike mood, while provocatively accentuating the uninhibited dancers’ perfectly-sculpted muscular bodies in high-contrast chiaroscuro. The musical soundscape to which they dance ranges from the classical score of Tchaikovsky to an uncensored rap song inspired by it to post-modern hits and electronic beats, and JUNK’s ever-imaginative theatrical style includes everything from ballet to Broadway, acrobatics to erotic dance. Between segments, projected background texts and voiceovers give witty seasonal introductions to the themes and guarantee that, in this “adult swim,” you will get wet. And so you will.

The production opens with the four dancers, in black top hats and tails over skimpy white underwear, performing a chorus-line spotlight routine that evokes a mash-up of Bob Fosse, Josephine Baker, Madonna, and Taylor Swift; it closes with a surprise that recalls the famous “Water Scene” from Flashdance. And throughout it all, the incomparable ensemble executes feats of impeccable balance and synchronicity, strength and athleticism, flexibility and agility, sensuality and sexuality, in their remounts of sequences from Snowball, Suspended, My Funny Bone, American Standard, and other of the company’s unforgettable shows.

William Robinson. Photo by Ted Lieverman.
William Robinson. Photo by Ted Lieverman.

There are laughs supplied by Robinson as a “bad Santa” in skin-tight shiny-red shorts, Higdon frenetically opening a shockingly over-wrapped present, and Fatscher, Robinson, and Daley engaging in high-energy bull-riding to the point of feigned exhaustion. There are boldly enticing and explicit bits with Higdon and a colossal phallic cactus, Higdon and Daley writhing on an oiled glass-top table, and the pair seducing a giant stuffed polar bear in a cross-species ménage-à-trois. And there are hypnotically beautiful pieces that feature Fatscher and Robinson entwining their near-naked bodies, and that display the signature aerial skills of the consummately graceful ensemble, partnering to perfection in their sometimes subtle, always daring, and often dangerous movements on ropes, rings, and a variety of inventive suspended shapes, as they swing, spin, and fly through the air.

Urban Scuba: Adult Swim is an unparalleled holiday treat for an over-18 audience, so if you’re a JUNKie like me, don’t miss this opportunity to dive in; let the wild, imaginative, cutting-edge waters of Brian Sanders’ JUNK sweep over you.

Running Time: Approximately 95 minutes, including an intermission.

Photo by Steve Belkowitz.
Photo by Steve Belkowitz.

Urban Scuba: Adult Swim plays through Saturday, December 23, 2017, at Brian Sanders’ JUNK – 2040 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call (267) 406-6080, or purchase them online.


  1. Hum… Deb Miller — was this really a review or a fan rave from a friend of the company? If DC Metro just wants to promote box office sales, then please don’t use the word Review. I’m not a reviewer so don’t expect that of me. The show began and ended with a super-wow. Great set, music, amazing dancers. But Higdon and Daley writhing on an oiled glass-top table, and the pair sexing with a while plush polar bear… really? Barely ironic. That was traditional straight-up girlie porn for men (replete with throwing panties up in the air to start the glass table show). Those acts barely got applause. They didn’t showcase their amazing skills. I’m waiting for the feminist version? Add a woman to your directorial team… Give the gals the respect they are due. Some of the other acts were boy porn for men. (Another male gaze….) But the acts were able to highlight their skills and left us with: wow amazing.


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