Tense Dave

Tense Dave choreography & direction: Lucy Guerin, Michael Kantor and Gideon Obarzanek
for Malthouse Theatre & Chunky Move
At the Merlyn Theatre until 29 April 2007

This is must-see stuff. Created by a stellar set of Melbourne creatives who bring their collective understanding of dance and theatre to bear on 65 minutes of inventive, hilarious, and inspiring work.

Originally conceived in 2003, the show has toured internationally to rave reviews, awards and standing ovations. Set entirely on a revolving disc, sectioned off by moveable walls, the piece’s animated and fluid spatial dynamics are a joy to behold. In most productions that make use of a giant lazy susan, the set feels contrived and cumbersome. But, in Tense Dave, the disc spins so effortlessly and the choreography is so intrinsically mapped out and infused by the rotation that it becomes an extension of the performers’ movements. The walls as they are shifted, can offer us both brief glimpses and unravellings of space that eschew a predictable rhythm.

Each performer is both a clearly defined character and part of a broader mercurial subconscious dreamscape of characters who people the imaginal realms of the others. The different roles of each allows idiosyncratic tones and humour to emerge—Jane Austen-like bonnet drama flows into kung fu hustle and so forth. All the performers are excellent, with Michelle Heaven’s remarkable comic sensibility infusing a delicious irreverence.

The Malthouse is proving itself an adept venue when it comes to programming high quality productions that have already enjoyed the added gestation period of previous outings (look out for Brian Lipson’s Antechamber at the end of the year). With a very short run for Tense Dave, you’ll have to be fast to catch this return season, but you really, really should.