I Like This Review
Alison Croggon, Theatre Notes
23 November 2008
Unless, of course, you wander down to Chunky Move to see I Like This, the collaboration between young choreographers Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton. Anyone who has watched these dancers in action will be familiar with their physical wit, and here is an opportunity to see how dancers can make brilliant clowns. I Like This is, appropriately enough, an almost preternaturally likeable show.
The conceit is simple: we are watching a work being assembled as it is performed. Hamilton and Perry crouch for most of the time centre-stage, fiddling with a sound system and surrounded by a wild tangle of wires, the evil geniuses orchestrating the action. Stephanie Lake is - initially at least - a kind of tv-show host, rather like the role played by Brian Lipson in Two-Faced Bastard (with which this show bears some affinities).
All lighting and sound is lo-tech and controlled by the performers. Much of the visual wit emerges from hand-held lights that the performers switch on and off in the total darkness of the Chunky Move studio, revealing brief glimpses of vignettes or comic poses that invite any number of narratives from the audience. It's performed to a collage of music that ranges from early blues to Phillip Glass, with side references to zombie movies or Star Wars. It's unashamedly self-referential - this is a dance that is all about itself - yet its teeming imaginativeness ensures that it's continually surprising. It is as if the choregraphers have sketched out a couple of formal conceits and then squeezed out every possibility and combination.
What drives the show is the play between the choreographers' control and the way the dance continually seems to escape them. And what makes it work is the dancers' split-second precision and physical humour. Often it is laugh-out-loud funny, but this doesn't erase the possibility of some beautiful moments - a lone dancer with a light wandering into the darkness until she becomes a star wandering through the firmament, or the two choreographers crouched beneath a doona cover that transforms into a cloud at the centre of an electrical storm, before they emerge, like two naughty boys playing at bedtime, to argue about how best to end the show.