REVIEW: Everything Anyone Ever Wanted (Black Sheep Productions)

Review by Matt Baker

Everything Anyone Ever Wanted

[Generation Movement]

Less than a week after The Spinoff wrote this response to a North & South article on millennials, award-winning choreographic director Natalie Maria Clark presents Everything Anyone Ever Wanted, her fifth show in four years under the collective Black Sheep Productions and one of the strongest pieces of performance, let alone dance, to advocate for Generation Y. Its strength, however, comes not from a defence of a demographic that is criticized for its attitudes and apathy on everything from politics and activism to marriage and childbearing, or an admonishment of it, but from thorough examination and exploration through its medium.

Sean Kelly’s sound design, in addition to pieces by Thomas Press, Emi Pogoni, and Ray Evans, supplies an emotional charge to the work, though has moments of conflict with the narrative flow provided by Ruby Reihana-Wilson’s lighting design, which brings focus to the aging of the piece, from the innocence of its childlike beginning and pre-pubescent social structuring, to its adolescent angst and quarter-life crisis.

Utilising Q Loft’s windows is an obvious design opportunity, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been incorporated more so in the past, but set designer Christopher Stratton ensures that it is not simply a gratuitous employment. Stratton frames the stage with a massive reflective surface that distorts the performers and a suspended staircase art-installation-style structure that leads nowhere, which each provide their own commentary on the perspectives and objectives of the subject matter, while the “view” of Queen Street provides a backdrop that continually reinforces the juxtaposition of theatrical mimesis and reality.

Rosa Strati, with an excellent control of fluidity and specificity, finds a variety of play, as does Benjamin Mitchell, with a combination of openness and incredibly precise articulation. Sofia McIntyre takes a while to warm into the show, but more than compensates with a ferocity that echoes the aggressive frustration of youth. Countering this, Emmanuel Reynaud portrays the emotional tension with fine subtlety, and performs the vocal content with a clear and concise thought process.

With an abundance of content and commentary, Clark’s direction provides a cohesive structure of the beats, allowing the work to flow organically. Most importantly, the show raises questions without providing answers. In a similar vein to last week’s Basement Theatre comedy hit, Milky Bits, the talent acts as a conduit, almost superficially, lulling the audience into a place of trust while revealing the greater overarching commentary.

Everything Anyone Ever Wanted is an incredibly dense work and requires an attentive focus from its audience. The impact is both immediate and resonant, and multiple viewings would allow for much additional reading and interpretation, and further reinforcement of the depth of the themes explored. Whether you are part of Generation Y, or perceive its members as anything generationally identifiable from faux empathy to blind militancy, Everything Anyone Ever Wanted will show you exactly what you expect, and much more.

Everything Anyone Ever Wanted is presented by Black Sheep Productions and plays at Q Loft until June 25. For details see Q Theatre.

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Sarah Knox 

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