04 August 2010

Review: Human Interest Story

Human Interest Story
Malthouse Theatre, Lucy Guerin and Perth International Arts Festival
24 July 2010
Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse

Lucy Guerin's choreography speaks louder and clearer than most words on our stages.  Human Interest Story explores the overlap of our domestic lives with the "news" and current events. Is it as hard to care as passionately about wars and stuff when Callum might beat Adam at Masterchef?

Be it the nightly news, daily papers or Facebook updates, we each have some connection and interest in the world beyond ourselves, and when Presidents Ahmadinejad and Obama are presented alongside the gossiping of Michael Jackson's former nanny, it's no wonder we feel unable to understand or react in the most positive manner.

Human Interest Story opens with the dancers watching a big screen TV with a monotone narration of the news. In the background, a barely lit, full-size tank sits like a tamed wild cat wondering if it can still attack.  In brightly coloured camouflage outfits, the dancers' words are their music in a world where slicing strassburg (fritz or devon for non-Victorians) at Coles is as important as getting a text about your euthanised dog,  giving your kids scrambled eggs, oil spills and Julia Gillard's view on climate change.

With a wow soundscape created by Jethro Woodward and lighting by Paul Jackson (whom I can never say enough good about), colours turn to grey and black as heartbeats, breath, scrunching newspaper and finally music accompany the dancers, whose intensity and emotion moves from the personal to a deeply personal reaction to a world they are part of and unable to control.

The physical language of dance is often foreign to people like me who love words, but dance like this reminds us of their limitations. Guerin and her dancers (Stephanie Lake, Alisdair Macindoe, Talitha Maslin, Harriet Ritchie, Stuart Shugg and Jessica Wong) create a balance where their skill creates the emotion and response, so rather than watching and wondering how bodies can do that, we feel deep in our guts; feel what we really think about the overwhelming nature of our multi-media contradictory society, even if we can't find adequate words to express it in a tweet. They bring the human response back to the stories.

As this review got unintentionally lost in a week of film festivals and musical openings, the short Melbourne season is over, but Human Interest Story will be at the Perth International Arts Festival next year.  It's great excuse to go to Perth.

This review appeared on AussieThearte.com.

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