Nothing new under The Basement Lights [by Matt Baker]
29 performers, numerous acts, and one creative mind behind it all. It’s a recipe for a potentially excessive and hubristic night at the theatre, but creator Jessie McCall has pulled together a diverse assortment of dancers, actors, and musicians under the unifying theme of artistic copyright to produce a truly entertaining evening.
From intricately mechanical and captivatingly repetitive choreography, accented particularly by Sofia McIntyre’s physical articulation, to a stunning rendition of “Chandelier” by Malvina Domar, the variety within the show offers a high degree of genuine entertainment value for all audience members. Humbly inspiring acts like The Hardchorus’ Youtube clip rendition of “Truly Madly, Deeply,” by Savage Garden and the breaking free of David Toomey’s ancestral roots rap are juxtaposed with lip-synchs, a classic cover convention, hilariously presented by Tim McPoland and Amanda Tito with Christina Aguilera and Bette Davis respectively. There is also an excellent commentary on what could be considered one of the most notorious covers in history, with the ever-funny Hamish Parkinson leading a literally metaphorical bible-verse group, and Phoebe Borwick inter-webbing of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on “Your elusive creative genius” is as intriguing to watch as the original clip itself.
Even with less engaging moments, McCall has constructed a cohesive voice that carries through the show, meaning that there’s always a component into which one can tune. Both the concept and context of covering another artist is given equal portrayal, neither substance over style or vice versa. Pete Davison and Marshall Bull provide an excellently atmospheric lighting design, proving that less is more and drawing the audience into a collective experience within the dimly, yet precisely, lit walls of The Basement main stage.
The cover context is well played throughout the production, ironically providing personal insight and artistic expression for all performers. There is a huge amount of intellectual stimulation, and visually and aurally impressive entertainment, so much so that you could see this show multiple times and constantly be able to draw something new from each viewing, which, as an element of a production, should not be underrated. Don’t be put off by the overwhelming nature of this ironically originally show.
Cover Lover is presented by All You Can Eat productions and plays at The Basement until June 20. For details see The Basement.