Beyond the Binary [by Matt Baker]
From programme notes to performance, choreographer Lydia Zanetti and her performers take an intellectual approach to the subject and theme of gender. The group’s etymological exploration delves much further, with Tallulah Holly-Massey’s haunting hair-masked crawler (designed by Leonie Nicholls) allowing for Freudian interpretations of castration anxiety. That’s not to say that the show doesn’t evoke any emotional, simply that any reaction one will most likely be the culmination of a mental process as opposed to a visceral organic response to raw material.
Isobel MacKinnon’s character draws on the core, child-like perception of the clown, which prevents the exploration of the phallic symbol being crudely dealt with – an all too common trait on stage. MacKinnon’s joy is infectious, and her ability to hold an audience (no easy task) is laudable. Lisa Greenfield gives an incredibly nuanced performance, finding a variety of subtle yet affective variations in stillness. Mattie Hamuera switches from camp and playful to masculine and serious with excellent precision, without ever milking the humour it creates.
Jess Holly-Bates’ hair wall set design is used cleverly, and again provides plenty to interpret when considering the gender genitalia addressed. Whichever way you decipher it, the show provides multiple access points for audience members’ of any gender. What (SAME) does perfectly, is present symbols on stage, through physical phrasing, in a short yet surprisingly concise amount of time, without ever indulging or coming across as pretentious – as is often the case when practitioners take on such epic themes. Ruby Reihana-Wilson’s lighting design is perfectly simple, which suits the stripped back elements of both pieces, and allows for excellent depth and width on stage.
FUCK ME FUCK YOU
The absurdist nature of Fuck Me Fuck You is immediately apparent, both with Val Smith’s costumes and Smith and Tru Paraha’s comic tweaks. While the costumes provide both humour and dichotomy, there were times when I wanted to see the subtleties of the performer’s movements, especially when they were on the ground and my depth perception was lost due to their angle.
Eventually, the repetition of the more vigorous and unrelentingly physicality loses interest, as opposed to the moments of prolonged stillness, which is accentuated by small, sustained movements. Fuck Me Fuck You lives up to its title, and is a strong juxtaposition to complement (SAME), but the base reality of this base instinct offers little in comparison.
SEP ARATE plays at The Basement until November 15. For details see The Basement.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview review by Jesse Quaid