POIGNANT... AND A BIT TONGUE IN CHEEK
Auckland Fringe 2013|
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND STILL APPEAR NORMAL (2013)
Natalie Maria Clark choreographer. Collaborators - Sofia McIntyre and Sarah Elsworth
Score by Emi Pogoni
at Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre, Auckland
From 19 Feb 2013 to 21 Feb 2013
Reviewed by Briar Wilson, 20 Feb 2013
A lot of people who have friends see themselves as normal, but now Natalie Maria Clark asks if we can be sure about all this.
The piece starts with dancers Sarah Elsworth and Sofia McIntyre, sternly dressed in black and white, impassively waiting for us, the audience. Elsworth has a suitcase. Then Clark takes over the stage to show herself as someone who is unsure, who is practising being confident – but isn't anxious as she tries out various spoken introductions.
Interesting messages appear on the backdrop – advice such as “eye contact is important”, what her mother says, comments such as “I hate words”, “better to think less”, “just can't decide”, “I don't understand people”, “I'm normal” as Clark sits watching as if to learn. All pretty normal, that.
McIntyre drags back in the suitcase with rags attached like knotted sheets ready for escape out the bedroom window and Elsworth emerges as Clark talks more to the audience. McIntyre and Elsworth dance together to bouncy folk type music – it's not just having fun, but neither is there anything wishy-washy here.
The next dance scene is stunning. The three, in a line running back from the front of the stage, in pale flesh coloured pants and bra, move with slow caressing fluidity, now to more serious music, in unison, but as if each is in her private world.
This ends with the contrast of Elsworth and McIntyre getting back into their black and white in control gear, Clark also donning a black skirt - trying to join them? And this is where Clark asks “Am I normal?“. The lights go on, we the audience are told that “you can leave if you want to”, and McIntyre and Elsworth take seats amongst us from where they correct Clark's moves as if they are now judging Clark. She ends up hiding her head in the suitcase.
We also see Clark in an interview setup, controlled by the other two, and in a video as a child in a winning dance group - so is she still really not grown up and in control of herself?
The story moves on with a pure dance sequence with first one, then the other, acting as the comforter, and then becoming antagonistic. They push one another around roughly, Elsworth pulling Clark about by the hair. Friends but not always friendly, and Clark ends up wrapped in a bright red blanket. But there is more yet for Clark to endure – more advice and an apple shoved at her to take bites. The piece finishes with Clark setting up two more uneaten apples with hers in a line in front of her then dousing herself with water from a bowl – not self-punishment, rather a cleansing to get herself back to her nomality?
The work is thoughtfully produced, directed and choreographed by Clark, beautifully danced with expressive movement. It is entertaining, funny at times while also poignant, and a bit tongue in cheek. The music (composer Emi Pogoni) fits around the movement, and the whole makes good theatre.
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See also reviews by:
Raewyn Whyte (NZ Herald);