Review: Love Me ~ theatre notes

Friday, July 27, 2007

Review: Love Me

Love Me by Lucy Guerin. Motion graphics by Michaela French, lighting design by Keith Tucker, visual art by David Rosetzky, music and sound design Francois Tetaz, Paul Healy and Darrin Verhagen. With Stephanie Lake, Kyle Kremerskothen, Kirstie McCracken and Byron Perry. Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne, until July 28. Touring: Sydney: Aug 15-19, Performance Space @ CarriageWorks; Brisbane: Aug 22-25, Brisbane Powerhouse; Perth: Aug 29 - Sep 8, PICA.

I feel a little tentative approaching dance. Unlike theatre, for me dance is an undiscovered country. I can't read the signposts: I know very little about its histories and traditions and contemporary manifestations. Like Kafka watching a typist, I can only marvel at the mysterious skill that makes it all possible.

However, despite my lamentable choreographic illiteracy, I love going to see dance. I suspect that part of it is the same release from words that I feel when I look at visual art; another is the sheer delight of watching dancers moving in space with focus and precision, marvellously aware of their articulate bodies. In any case, it's fair to say that I may not know much, but I know what I like.

And certainly I like Lucy Guerin. Having ingeniously missed every show she's had on in Melbourne in the past three years, I finally caught up with Love Me, which premiered at the Malthouse a couple of years ago. I'm glad I was able to: it's a beautiful work, an absorbing play of bodies and projected light. Love Me is three short works that explore the nature of relationship and the dualities of inner and outer experience. The three works - meditations on the tos and fros of love, its imprisonments and its exhilarations - create a narrative that works towards a joyous sense of freedom.

It opens with a pair of solos, Reservoir of Giving I & II, in which dancers Kyle Kremerskothen and Kirstie McCracken, two halves of a floundering relationship, perform before a screen. Projected on to the screen is videoed footage of the other, walking or standing or sitting with a desolate vacancy in a sterile bedroom that is, like a hotel room, naked of any distinctive features.

Everything - the spoken text that accompanies the dance, the bland bedroom, Paul Healy's deliberately cheesy music - expresses a kind of heightened banality, before which the dancers express both their imprisonment and their desire - evident in McCracken's shaping and manipulation of her body, as if it were a machine, or Kremerskothen's witty and sinister duet with a chair.

On, the piece that follows, is a series of short duets and solos performed by Kirstie McCracken and Byron Perry. Here at times the dancers become screens for projected images, sometimes seeming to be more creatures of light than flesh. They flicker between being disturbing, sinister and playful, as they articulate various states of relationship and conflict, playing in precisely orchestrated areas of lit space across the wide darkness of the Arts House.

The show finishes with the gloriously lyrical Melt, again featuring McCracken, this time with Stephanie Lake. Where darkness was the abiding feeling of the previous piece, this is all light, a piece that sweeps into harmonies of gesture that depend, in their precise synchronicity, on the details of difference between the bodies of the dancers and the articulations of their movements.

Guerin makes you see the human body in new ways: people become like trees or machines or furniture, or hands transform into pulsating flowers. In one dance, the entire focus is on the dancers' legs, the rest of their bodies hidden in darkness; in another, the huge stage is merely a frame for a tiny square of light that shows us a hand and a foot. Sometimes I felt like I was watching a modernist painting - Paul Klee, perhaps - come to life; sometimes the dancers seemed like video projections, inventions of a computer; sometimes they were simply human bodies, with the kind of startling clarity that is a revelation of complexity (as the poet Neruda says, "Naked, you are simple as a hand").

I wish I were less tired and less hurried: in short, that I could describe this enthralling and beautiful work a little better. But it closes tomorrow night, and I wanted to tell you about it now.

1 comment:

harley stumm said...

Love Me is touring nationally - seasons still to come in Sydney, Brisbane & Perth.

Sydney: Aug 15-19, Performance Space @ CarriageWorks.

Brisbane: Aug 22-25, Brisbane Powerhouse

Perth: Aug 29 - Sep 8, PICA

Toured by Performing Lines for Mobile States: Touring Contemporary Performance, Australia