Stephen Petronio Venures Into a Dark World, Chunky Move Lights One Up

Choreographers and Australia….

Although Mark Blackman and Elaina Morgan are handling the light and sound boards out of sight behind the audience, Hamilton and Perry skillfully create the illusion that they and the others are in complete control of what we see and hear. Lake puts a little blue-gel hat over the workman’s lamp she holds when a few seconds of eeriness are needed, and during her hostessy speech to us, she lights Macindoe and Simons like the robots or department store dummies they resemble.

We might be watching a TV set on the fritz: the on-and-off, strobic flashes of light, sometimes coordinated with sounds, reveal the men in split-second jolts of motion. Their fully lit conversation—such as it is—jerks along in fits and starts; sometimes they finish each other’s sentences. “I like this,” confides Lake, and “These guys are good!” She’s right. And they contrast nicely, with Macindoe tall and strongly built and Simons shorter and slighter. After these two’s virtuosic display of timing, Hamilton and Perry have a wittily inarticulate chat about how this, their production, is going. There’s hardly a coherent finished thought in evidence among the words they’re fumbling for.

Many perception-challenging games ensue. Lake swings a light, letting the distance between her hand and the bulb increase, while rhythmic sounds mimic the changes; the darkness around us is illuminated in a dizzying carousel of the visible. Shadows appear on the back wall, grow, shrink, and vanish. Hamilton and Perry keep crawling around, plugging and unplugging, freeing tangled wires; intermittently they comment on what may or may not be happening according to plan. The chairs light up from behind, serve as masks for a dancey little trio, and contribute to the mayhem when they seem to chase their creators, Hamilton and Perry.

Stephen Petronio’s Underland, with Reed Luplau, Julia De Leon, and Matalie Mackessy.
Stephen Petronio’s Underland, with Reed Luplau, Julia De Leon, and Matalie Mackessy.
Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton in their I Like This.
Proud Mother Pictures
Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton in their I Like This.

Details

Stephen Petronio Company: Underland
Joyce Theater
April 5 through 10

Chunky Move: I Like This
Joyce Soho
April 7 through 9

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In one pleasing vignette, Simons slinks creepily up to Lake and Macindoe, who’re standing motionless side by side. Hamilton is lighting all three of them, but Simons is holding a lamp beneath his own chin, which enhances his Halloween ghoul aspect. He makes his mates’ arms swing, and they take nearly overlapping turns voicing his words. After their tickling of him turns into a minor orgy, he kneels between them, holding a hand of each.

Eventually, Lake, Macindoe, and Simons put a white quilt over Hamilton and Perry, as they hunker down over their equipment. Lights from within make the “tent” glow around these explorers in the wilderness of art. Cue up the thunder, the lightning, the patter of rain. Storm over, the two men put their heads out and talk about how best to end. Shall they just emerge and look at each other? Nah, that doesn’t work. Pop out quickly? No. Well just. . . .

The end.

“I Like This” is too laconic as a summing-up of I Like This. I fucking love it.

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