Do you still think of me?
24/02/2011 - 25/02/2011
A new experimental dance – physical theatre by Maria Dabrowska, Wellington’s own uber kinetic movement inventionist, and hyper fluid improvisation savant Kristian Larsen.
A charismatically mad homeless middle class white male and his asexual bisexual A.D.D. female companion, find themselves in an abandoned cinema without a thought in their heads or a reason to leave.
Exposing the indestructible vulnerability of two eccentric characters, Do You Still Think of Me blends highly inventive movement vocabulary with humorous images of madness, banality, and crass beauty.
25 Courtney Place, Wellington
24-25 Feb 10:30pm (Thu & Fri)
Entry by Koha (Donation)
Tickets: At the door
Connection, disconnection, sexuality, loneliness …
Review by Jo Thorpe 26th Feb 2011
Occupying a three and a half metre strip of the Paramount Theatre stage, this ‘experimental dance physical theatre work’ consists of a series of alternating solos culminating in a skilfully executed – if somewhat disconcerting – duet.
Set against a wide, white screen flanked by a ladder on one side and low table and chairs on the other, and aided by a range of props which include a roll of sticky brown parcel tape and a staple gun, two eccentric individuals (Kristian Larsen and Maria Dabrowska) speak, act, sing and dance.
There is frenetic tension in the fast-paced, inventive choreography. Dabrowska’s jerky, alternately rag-doll and robotic-like movements, and her repeated body wraps and spins, are precisely executed. Larsen’s cross-step solo builds in intensity and speed to reveal some kind of inner mayhem. And later, his viscerally vibrating body shakes and ricochets as if volts of electricity run through and out his very fingertips.
There are touches of wry humour and poignant character portrayal. In the opening scene, the male character gives a slide presentation of his trip to some unidentified country. Perfectly pitched at ‘deliberately understated’ (and at times, almost inaudible), Larsen conveys a sense of diffidence and confusion. As he speaks to the disproportionately small images projected on the screen, his trailing sentences and half-formed thoughts invoke our sympathy.
Visually interesting is the scene in which the female flings a barrage of footwear over her shoulders. From the far side of the stage, sneakers, boots, shoes and ballet slippers fly past the male, who dodges, parries and kicks at these missiles. But it is unclear whether she is hurling them at him, or past him, or whether he is simply irrelevant and in the way.
To music ranging from Indian and Middle Eastern-sounding tracks to a Suzanne Vega-ish song entitled ‘I knew he needed me’, Do You Still Think of Me explores themes of connection and disconnection, sexuality and loneliness, control – or lack of it – and bizarre gratification.
When the two characters finally do dance together, they are like isolated body parts alternately wrapping around and pushing away from each other. A cell phone call is resolutely ignored. Machine drills whirr. She guzzles wine from the bottle in post-masturbatory release until it spills over her chest and onto the floor. And in the final scene, she breaks out into loud, inappropriate song.
Because Larsen is billed as an ‘improvisation savant’, I had half expected chance coincidences and unplanned events to occur. But the work appears to be tightly scripted and choreographed, and the music is pre-recorded.
While the title implies a couple who have once known each other well, they could equally be two people who had never met till this moment and just happen to be occupying a common space. Again, the publicity material describes the male as ‘charismatically mad’, but apart from his overlong, flapping sleeves and dishevelled clothes, he seems to be more lost and disorientated. Nor is there any indication that the female is ‘asexual bisexual’. She comes across as a dysfunctional heterosexual.
The final song ‘Looking Back’ invites us to reflect on the relationship between these two individuals. But instead, I find myself looking back to Dabrowska’s 2009 Carnival Hound – a work I found far more textured and compelling.
Dabrowska has 30 or more choreographies under her belt, and Larsen holds the Best Choreography by an Established Artist Award from the 2009 Tempo Festival. Coming 48 hours after the Christchurch earthquake and the extraordinary developments in Egypt and Libya, I had wanted this work by two mid-career dance artists to be somehow more ‘important’. But perhaps this is unfair. Do You Still Think of Me? is a half- hour, late-night Fringe Festival show, and admission is by koha.
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