Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for May 20th, 2009

You Don’t Love Me The Way That I Love You

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I went to see Lucy Guerin’s Love Me at the Southbank Centre last night. This is a trio of short contemporary dance pieces first performed in Australia in 2005.

The first of these, Reservoir of Giving I and II, was not very good at all. The idea is to tell the story of a relationship from both sides, female dancer and male voiceover and then the reverse, but the two mediums never meshed and nice touches of movement were lost within the blandness. Matters weren’t helped by the score which had the air of Seventies soft porn.

On was much better. Male and female were now united on stage for a dystopian duet of wonderful, layered intricacy. It was slightly sprawling but it was the only time during the evening that sound, light and body were in successful collaboration (if not harmony given the antagonism of the piece).

The final piece, Melt, was sabotaged by the fact that someone’s iPod was playing very quietly but not quietly enough somewhere behind me. This made it impossible to concentrate on the near silent start of the performance. Beyond the aural irritation I was wracked with a pointless paranoia that it was in fact my iPod making the noise, even though I knew this was impossible. Once the volume on stage increased I was able to divert my attention back to the performers but there was nothing much to see. Against a projected background the two dancers stood side by side, face on to the audience and mugged their way through a pretty broad routine. This approach – coupled with the disparity in height between the two and their lack of synchronicity – brought to mind a school talent show.

So very much a mixed bag but I’m glad I went. This was in the Purcell Room because Ken Livingstone was giving a talk in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. It is a bit of a shame that he is such a bigger draw but (rogue iPods notwithstanding) the smaller space was the better venue given the intimacy of the pieces.

Written by Martin

20 May 2009 at 11:09

Posted in performance

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‘Cleopatra Brimstone’ by Elizabeth Hand

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Redshift opened with a novella but this is the first one since. The extra space gives Hand a chance to go into more detail than most of the other stories here but this proves to be a mixed blessing. For every sharp observation there is one that lapses into purple prose. On the first page she describes butterflies on a child’s mobile as being “no longer eidolons of Eden” and there is quite a bit of this sort of thing.

In a familar manner the story quickly sketches the first two decades of the protagonist’s life before a trauma transformations her life and brings us to the main body of the story. Janie has been obsessed by butterflies all her life and goes on to study them at university. In her final year she is raped and in an attempt to regain control of her life moves from the US to London to housesit for rich family friends. Just as the prose splits between the acute and the purple so Hand’s depiction of London alternates between that which resonates and that which reminds you of Dick Van Dyke. There is a general credibility problem here. Okay, it is about a woman who discovers she is able to turn men into butterflies by tossing them off but even the non-fabulicious parts are unconvincing: I don’t believe Janie’s transformation from introvert to club chick, I don’t believe much of the world she inhabits and I certainly don’t believe in the oversized secondary characters she interacts with.

Obviously this is a fantasy story so no points for pushing the boundaries of science fiction.

Quality: ***
Shiftiness: *

Written by Martin

20 May 2009 at 10:22

Posted in sf, short stories

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