Sometimes there are pieces of theatre that really surprise and inspire, taking ideas and creativity to a whole new level. Conversation Piece just so happens to be one of those pieces of live performance.
Set on a minimal stage with chairs and jacks for iPhones, this very contemporary performance piece involves dance, interpretation, performance and iPhone technology. There are six performers in total in the space – three professional dancers and three actors. This is the first performance that has been presented in conjunction with the modern technology we hold on our pockets, using it to deliver a vivid and quite challenging staged experience.
This is a play about imagination, the creative use of dialogue and its various interpretations, not only through acting but also through dance. And boy are there some powerful dance movements, performed by Harriet Ritchie, Alisdair Macindoe and Rennie McDougall. The accompanying acting pieces, also extraordinary, are devised by Megan Holloway, Matthew Whittet and Alison Bell.
The play starts with three would-be students on stage talking about Cher, Glee, urine and everything in between, but it soon dawns on you that they are not listening to their iPhones but recording their dialogue. Enter three additional performers who collect similar recording devices and perform the same dialogue but with totally different meaning, followed by three performers dancing the dialogue… this is all about interpretation and its various forms.
Lucy Guerin has directed, devised and choreographed an interesting production all about one’s own take on the comprehension of dialogue. Not knowing what to expect when viewing this production left me surprised at the level of creativity and really enjoying each performance as they take you on a journey that you really didn’t expect.
What really caught my eye was the integrity of each dancer’s and actor’s performance. Alison Bell is really quite humorous and fun to watch on stage as an actor and rather amusing as a not-so professional dancer. Matthew Whittet is just damn funny the whole time and you can’t help but giggle at his entire performance. Alisdair Macindoe is menacing and cute at the same time and you can’t help but want to have him spoon and dry hump you as he does Matthew at one point.
Conversation Piece is very clever and the best way to experience it is to go with an open mind, no expectations and maybe a wine or two from their very friendly bar staff. The use of the iPhones and apps was ingenious, and every time the jack was slowly lowered from the roof you wait with anticipation for what is about to be presented in front of you.
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