Theatre

Hitting A Brick Wall/Love Song Dedication @ BAC, London



devised and performed by
Rosie Dennis
Rosie Dennis is a performance artist from Sydney who combines movement, music and words to create short intense installation pieces.

I must admit the word installation makes me a tad apprehensive. It connotes to me something that I may well find idea-heavy but impenetrable. But that wasnt the case at all here.

As part of the BAC’s Burst festival Dennis is performing a double bill of two of her works, Hitting A Brick Wall and Love Song Dedication. The first of these pieces, she explains to us, is about waiting and wanting and winning. It begins with her standing before us in a stripy satin dress and equally stripy shoes. She then slowly dons a sash and a tiara before launching into a jerky angular dance. As she spasms and twists, her poses bring to mind a shop-window mannequin, a damaged doll.

This dance gradually morphs into a stuttering speech of acceptance: thank you, thank you, she repeats into an invisible microphone. ‘This means so much to me.’

Her way of speaking is measured and repetitive, theres a musical quality to it. The date on the sash reads 1985, and there is something both amusing and sad about this. The act of a winning for this woman has become a frozen moment and clearly nothing else since has matched it.

She then describes attending a party where she is forced to make a speech, where people expect things of her, though she does not know exactly what they expect. She concludes the piece by describing her need to retreat to a room, a space where she feels safe and still. She repeats this desire over and over again as shots of a bare, empty room are projected on a screen on the wall behind her.

In the second piece, Love Song Dedication, Dennis again makes use of a looping, repetitive way of speaking. Here she charts the various stages of a relationship, counting them off. She describes falling in love and then falling out of love, a twisting road. Again there is dancing: a series of rapid staccato movements followed by a burst of intense, heavy breathing, near hyper-ventilation, panic attack. Her limbs are taut, her movements jagged yet modulated. Yet the piece is not as intense as this would suggest, and in fact there is much humour in it, in the choice of music, in the way she words things.

This, for me, was the more satisfying of the pieces. The fragmented story of a love growing then falling apart was both funny and moving, with a lingering sense of regret at the end. As a performer, Dennis throws her whole self into these works. They are complete pictures, intensly physical, like looping tapes. And though there is condsiderable poignancy in her work, it does not dominate, these pieces are more layered than that – small things that leave an imprint.



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