SENSITIVE PARTNERS IN AN INTIMATE ENVIRONMENT
NZ Fringe Festival 2012|
Concept/choreography/direction: Courtenay Ludbrook
Performers: Courtenay Ludbrook and Carmelo Mantarro
Text: Spoken by Charlotte Andrew, written by Courtenay Ludbrook.
at Private home; Maarama Crescent, Aro Valley, Wellington
From 21 Feb 2012 to 25 Feb 2012
Reviewed by Lyne Pringle, 22 Feb 2012
Courtenay Ludbrook invites us to her parent's home in Aro Valley to contemplate the nature of existence in an unpredictable world. She tackles enormous notions in an extremely intimate living space, filled with beautiful objects including mirrors and a grandfather clock.
It is an elegant and precise performance. Ludbrook has an engaging presence and her fellow performer Carmelo Montarro is a sympathetic collaborator playing a love interest , a shadow self and dream inhabitant.
Being in a house away from the theatre is refreshing so it is a strange anomaly that the performers build an impenetrable ‘fourth wall' when we are only a breath's distance away.
Repetitive gestural movement slowly reveals the tensions of a relationship – a couple getting ready to go out. Montarro leaves the room and we are drawn into the inner turmoil of Ludbrook. A ‘voice- over' is a clunky device to give us an insight into her thoughts on the impact on the planet of insects dying out versus humans dying out. There is some confusion here between the existentialist dilemma versus environmental concerns. I wonder how Ludbrook - choreographer/conceiver and director – could illuminate us with her themes in a more subtle and interesting way? For instance there is a powerful moment when she whimsically looks out the window into the garden - this is simple.
Montarro re-enters and is a tender manipulator as Ludbrook melts and falls her way through numerous dilemmas. Sections of the soundtrack created by the performers are compelling but generally it overrides the subtlety of the dance being performed.
Much of the choreography is conventional and looks cramped in this space. A rigorous investigation of the vocabulary would yield a dance more suited to the space and its associated performance mode. Letting go of conventions and digging into this site would lead to greater risk.
Scenes come and go and would be strengthened by stronger acting skills. A striking ‘red' section where the woman struggles to find her voice is followed by a dream on a train and a geeky ‘first dance' to Shona Laing. There are moments toward the end where the soundtrack becomes evocative and satisfying; the simple lighting is effective throughout.
Montarro and Ludbrook are sensitive partners and the final duet depicting the ‘final moments of life' is attractively danced, this leads to a satisfying ending.
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