PICA Performance Space
REVIEW NINA LEVY
The first time I saw Melbourne contemporary dance company Chunky Move was in 1997 at the Regal Theatre. The company performed then-director Gideon Obarzanek's Bonehead and I recall it being intense, highly physical and darkly humorous.
Cut to 2014 and Antony Hamilton's Keep Everything, while a very different work, has similar qualities. Now, as then, Chunky Move brings us a compelling production.
The premise for this work is to "keep everything created and edit nothing". As one might expect, the result has a stream-of-consciousness feel - and Hamilton's consciousness is not always comfortable viewing.
The opening scene has a post- apocalyptic feel, which sets the tone for what follows. The darkened stage is dappled with multi-coloured flecks of light. Through a smoky haze we can make out two piles of what appears to be rubbish (foam off-cuts we discover once the lights brighten).
Flickering sounds are punctuated with electronic rumbles, overlain, after some time, by drawn-out synthesised notes that sound like portents of doom. When the stage is abruptly illuminated, the brightness is blinding.
This uneasy world is inhabited by three dancers, Benjamin Hancock, Lauren Langlois and Alisdair Macindoe. Are they humans or creatures? Occasionally they speak, often they babble, bark, squeak or grunt.
Their movement ranges from robotically precise to wild, animal flailings. They morph from three separate beings to one amorphous beast, bodies wrapping and folding to join and separate. Nothing makes sense and yet it's infused with humour.
This work has numerous moments that depend on tiny yet complicated details being executed with absolute precision. A lengthy counting phrase, complete with matching gestures, is like a long-distance tongue twister.
A phrase of arm movements is at once simple yet complicated, a morse-code combination of gesture and pattern that must require uncompromised focus to perform. This work demands absolute physical discipline whilst delving into the realm of the ridiculous. Hancock, Langlois and Macindoe nail it, combining comic antics with lush physicality.
Keep Everything is not designed to placate its audience . . . but then who wants to be placated? Grab a ticket, if it hasn't sold out by the time you read this.
Keep Everything ends on Saturday, July 26.