Like This, Like Us
22/05/2013 - 25/05/2013
Georgie Goater and Oliver Connew are friends, good friends. Yet, their personalities are almost diametrically opposed. To Oliver, Georgie is absurd. To Georgie, Oliver is ridiculous.
This is the starting point for Like This, Like Us, the first in a planned triptych of new duets from award-winning Salted:Singlet (Best in Dance, NZ Fringe Festival 2012). Initially inspired by the dynamics of a friendship, two humanoids explore the rabid cult of individualism in a plastic-wrapped, ready-to-use world where the contemplations of science-fiction have invaded reality and supplanted the need for commonality. Like This, Like Us treads the first steps of a hypothetical path into our future.
Together with new music from accomplished musician Alfredo Ibarra, innovative lighting design by Amber Molloy and stage design by Valentina Serebrennikova, the alien-like physicalities of these performers take, as a reviewer has said of a previous work, a further ‘leap across the yawning chasm of the landscape of “self” that has preoccupied a whole generation of choreographers before…’ (Jenny Stevenson, Theatreview) and instead address issues of a new generation.
22-25 May 2013 at 7pm
Venue: Basement Theatre Studio
Lower Greys Ave
$15-$20 * Booking fees may apply
Performers: Georgia Goater and Oliver Connew
Absorbingly satisfying, mostly
Review by Raewyn Whyte 23rd May 2013
Salted: Singlet’s Like This Like Us offers a richly detailed introduction to aspects of daily living in a near future when personal space is greatly reduced and one person’s room is divided from the next merely by plastic sheeting, regardless of gender. In this scenario, personal possessions are minimal – one set of clothing with optional braces, no shoes, but optional socks; a spray bottle full of liquid for washing and a microfiber cloth for drying one’s body; several large clear plastic sacks; either an electric kettle or a toaster, a video screen, or a micro-video camera.
The performers are already in their side by side “rooms” when the audience arrives – each slumped on a chair and shrouded in plastic wrap which shows signs of condensation. Scissors hang near each of them, just out of reach, and behind each person are stacked opalescent white plastic storage cubes which appear to hold clothing and some other domestic objects.
It’s a largely monochrome world – black walls, white objects, clear plastic everything else, but with spot colour to draw they eye: sleek orange undies and braces for her, slightly rumpled blue knickers and stripey socks s for him; and as it soon transpires, colour-coded rain ponchos for the audience to wear while they watch, orange on her side of the aisle, blue on his.
It’s an absorbingly satisfying work to view, mostly, comprised largely of two simultaneous solos which eventually coalesce into a duet which provides a coda by way of conclusion.
Dancers Georgie Goater and Oliver Connew are of similar height and build, around 180cm tall, slim and strong, precise and confident, clean, quiet movers. Where Georgie has the subtly rounded muscles of an uber-fit female dancer, Oliver is wiry and lean, and you can see the knobs of his spine and the bony protuberances of ribs and collarbone. There are almost subliminal differences between them: she always claims her full height when standing, whereas he always hunches just a little. And despite the equivalence in height, overall, there’s considerable variance in length of limb and torso, and it’s not til the final duet where they match limb to limb and extend fully into space you can surmise that actually, he is a tad taller than her.
Every small detail of the movement (Oliver Connew), stage and costume design (Valentina Serebrennikova), lighting (Amber Molloy) appears to have been fully considered, including the interaction of these elements of the performance. [Unfortunately, though, opening night included the chance smashing of a light tube by an audience member oblivious to its presence, so I have no idea what scenographic effect we did not experience.]
The movement sequences flow easily from one to the next, with allowances for individual rhythms and timing and divergent content. There are moments of unison, and some tasks which each performer accomplishes along the way at different times or with variant force. The audience sits very close to the performers, so becoming absorbed in one person’s dancing causes you to lose sight of what the other does, and a conscious decision has to be made about switching your focus.
The music (Alfredo Ibarra) starts out minimal and fugitive – brief notes , an undertone drone, a short riff of electronica the come at you like a string of bubbles, suddenly appearing, floating on the air one minute and gone the next. It builds slowly over the hour of [performance, adding layers, slowly morphing from ambience to rhythmic drumming and sampled instruments and back again.
The final section of the piece changes the mood by displaying mysterious video images which appear on the screen behind Goater. These start out benignly, but come to carry connotations of surveillance and a significant shift in power relations between the dancers. Once you identify the sources of this material, you have to question what has come before: perhaps they are not simply two individuals living in side by side rooms, but perhaps hers is a prison cell, interrogation room, hospital or asylum room, and he is her jailer-equivalent? Or perhaps it is a kind of loveletter from him to her, an acknowledgement of their parallel existence — this is how I see you, this what I know of you, I never see you fully or clearly; or perhaps a plea – can we take away the screen and meet each other in the flesh?
Next we are joined by projections of people in the street, in full colour, walking towards us, framed by the dancers in silhouette as if they are looking out to the crowd from an interior mezzanine window. More scenarios bubble in my mind. But then the crowd fades and they dance together, a duet of swirling turns and brushing arms, collaboration rather than something coercive. The dance ends with them setting space between themselves and counter-posing the angle of their stance to look in different directions — perhaps ready to swathe up in plastic and repeat the cycle over.
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