Right, wow. Where to begin. So, on Thursday I saw Like This, Like Us. It’s a new piece by Salted:Singlet, choreographed by Oliver Connew. I saw Oliver’s first full-length choreographic piece An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree at The Auckland Fringe. I loved it and raved about it at length. I was really excited to see what he’d come up with this time.
Like This, Like Us was different to An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree in a lot of respects; it was slower generally and felt more deliberate. It was more of a journey. I was pleased to see though that it was just as intelligent and thought-provoking as An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree. I was also please to see that it’s the first of a triptych, so there is more to come!
The show is ‘Inspired by the dynamics of a friendship, two humanoids explore the rabid cult of individualism in a plastic-wrapped, ready-to-use world where the contemplations of science-fiction have invaded reality and supplanted the need for commonality.’ Phwoar.
Plastic. Everything is plastic. We are given plastic ponchos, to wear. We all look the same, though some are orange and some are blue. The two dancers are gladwrapped head to toe when we enter. Plastic boxes are stacked at the back of the stage which is divided by a clear sheet of plastic stretched over a frame running lengthwise down the stage. The frame splits the stage so that the dancers start off separated. The performance starts with them slowly extracting themselves from their plastic cocoons. It’s like watching something being birthed. Once free, the slowly explore the space and their bodies.
It’s fascinating to watch. It’s like witnessing someone learning to use and adult human body with no guidance. The movements are bizarre and unnatural but brilliant to watch. They develop differently and then they begin undertaking mundane tasks, getting dressed or making tea/toast. They are performing essentially the same tasks but in a slightly different order, or in a different manner. And the effect is really quite profound.
As with An Unfortunate Willingness To Agree everyday items are used to great effect. Gladwrap, large plastic bags, painting overalls. The mundane becomes fascinating and beautiful.
Intelligent, complex and fascinating to watch. Keep an eye out for more from this exciting new choreographer.