Fleshmeet, Chunky Move

Keith Gallasch, Virginia Baxter

Chunky Move, C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D 2

Chunky Move, C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D 2

There’s a moment in Gideon Obarzanek’s C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D 2, the final work in Chunky Move’s latest offering, Fleshmeet, when a solo dancer in diaphanous clothing moves in white light to a slow walking pattern beside a vast tilting screen. The scene startles with its scale and starkness. The movement is beautiful. But too soon the moment evaporates. After the sharply evocative opening, the architectonic relationship between dancer and screen dissolves and what was a vertiginous, ominous presence assumes a secondary role to the enactment of more predictable trios and solos, as impressively fast and lyrical as they are from the fine ensemble of performers. C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D 2 feels like a work awaiting its full realisation.

Paul Selwyn-Norton’s The Rogue Tool is a reverie on transformation, an engagement with objects as supports for and extensions to the body. It’s a more sustained piece that gives the audience time to decipher and enter its disturbing world. Dancers move purposefully into position and rigidify, propping each other up with poles like prostheses. People become objects. Their stillness is total, eerie. Through this strange landscape skirts the fabulously dexterous Luke Smiles in routines reminiscent of vaudeville but extending way beyond the limits of time and body. Damien Cooper’s lights have their own rhythm, cutting out in the middle of a movement or coming up to full strength at the end. Fred Frith’s unusually lyrical guitar is sublime, recorded with perfect clarity and played as it should be—loud and clear.

No doubt about it, C.O.R.R.U.P.T.E.D 1 is virtuosic. While sections of the audience revel in Obarzanek’s hyper-animated parody of soap opera, for others its strangely old-fashioned with none of the moral urgings of contemporary soap. It’s classic farce—accelerated action, comic personae, simple suspense, clever detailing of body movement especially from Fiona Cameron in a fabulous dress that seems to have a mind of its own. Like some entr’acte from burlesque, the piece is performed on the forestage in front of the curtain. The sexual politics are as musty—repressed wife discards spectacles and blossoms in momentary sexual dalliance with TV repairman. What satisfies at the level of virtuosity and dramaturgical inventiveness, in substance doesn’t connect beyond cliché. Chunky Move has power and precision, and now in evidence a sense of delicacy, but the pleasures of the company’s work still appear to rest on the surface, something darker, more thoughtful waiting just below, unseen.

Fleshmeet, Chunky Move, choreographers Gideon Obarzanek , Paul Selwyn Norton; performers Fiona Cameron, Brett Daffy, Lisa Griffiths, Kirstie McCracken, Byron Perry, Luke Smiles, David Tyndall; Seymour Theatre Centre, Sydney, September 12 – 26; Melbourne Festival, C.U.B. Malthouse, Melbourne, October 21 – 31

RealTime issue #27 Oct-Nov 1998 pg. 14

© Virginia Baxter & Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 1998
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