WAAPA-Display-Banner-Seesaw.jpg
Reviews/Comedy/Dance/Fringe World Festival

Millennials strive for COVID gold

25 January 2021

The 2020 Isolympics is an entertaining and tongue-in-cheek mish-mash of dance, story and parody, reports Daisy Sanders.

The 2020 Isolympics, Not Sold Separately ·
Girls’ School, 24 January 24, 2021 ·

The 2020 Isolympics, presented by Not Sold Separately, is a strange, comedic mix of exaggerated dance moves, ridiculous outfits and larger-than-life characters.

This new dance-theatre work offers a sophisticated and fast mish-mash of movement with witty words – not quite dance, not quite a linear tale, perhaps a parody and surely not to be taken too literally. We meet five surreal Olympic-style athletes, each of whom is a millennial enduring isolation. One by one they share their own heroic tale of iso-survival, culminating in a wild ensemble finale.

Before the show begins, we file into our seats past two performers bantering by a trampoline – one is Ruth Paul (played by Kimberley Parkin) in fake-beard and shiny Adidas-suit, who is busily coaching Just Josie (Briannah Davis) – all long legs in a pink leotard, puffing with over-feigned focus. On stage, Sonja Bigenstrone (Mani Mae Gomes), Elena Smirnov (Emily Coles) and Dick Head (pronounced Heed, obviously, and played by Lilly King) lounge elegantly with possessed expressions. Then the lights go down and the eccentric opening tableau ticks into slow-motion action.

Director Olivia Hendry’s playful opening to the tongue-in-cheek dance theatre work ignites the room, inviting our curiosity about what may transpire… but it’s also a slightly awkward beginning.

Thankfully, slow motion and awkwardness disappear quickly, and the rest of the show is a rip-roaring rollercoaster that splashes its irreverent, stylised and highly energetic humour about. The audience are half-hooting with delight and adoration, half-stunned, wide eyed but grinning and willing to take the 45-minute ride.

The most memorable moment of The 2020 Isolympics was the simplest: a single figure bouncing repeatedly on a mini-trampoline while a recorded voice-over reveals her Covid-19 isolation inner-monologue: equal parts domestic, dark, hilarious and sad.

Performative commitment is impressive from the whole cast. It is utterly enjoyable to see the five dance artists use a range of extreme and nuanced facial expressions, revealing their growing command of both slapstick and clever, rambling monologues packed with in-jokes and social commentary.

The venue – the Girls’ School’s Home Economics room – imposes some limitations on the work. The small stage space means the performances slightly lack muscularity and clarity, though fast-joke images and serious dag-factor make up for this.

Voices are at times lost beneath Germaine Png’s lively sound design and a noisy air-conditioner, though Parkin’s vocal prowess stands out. A different seating arrangement and less lighting could perhaps allow the cast to perform in an even more conversational and energetically responsive way. This live-comedy quality seems essential to Hendry’s work and the cast are close to nailing it.

While Olympic parody ultimately overtakes any deep reflection on the year that was (leaving the potential of the work’s topic slightly untapped), the show is unapologetic and relentlessly silly. If Hendry and friends aim to amuse and have a mighty good time, they succeed.

The 2020 Isolympics is on at Girls’ School until January 31.

Pictured top: Dance artists, from left, Briannah Davis, Kimberly Parkin and Mani-Mae Gomes in ‘The 2020 Isolympics’. Photo: Hannah Laurent 

Read Seesaw’s Q&A with Olivia Hendry and Briannah Davis.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Daisy Sanders

Daisy Sanders is an independent artist, 2017 WAAPA graduate (BA Dance, First Class Honours) and proud member of Sensorium Theatre. Her practice includes an enduring, embodied exploration of rest and generating creative spaces focused on care and critical dialogue. Daisy recently worked internationally with Teać Damsa and Geoff Sobelle. She loves the Merry-go-round and its centripetal force!

Past Articles

  • One man and two worlds

    In Perth Festival’s opening show, Daisy Sanders is mesmerised by the potency of Bangarra’s award-winning production, Bennelong.

Read Next

  • Dayana Hardy Acuna as Giselle, Oscar Valdes as Albrecht with the dancers of West Australian Ballet in Giselle (2021). Photo by Bradbury Photography In the white tutu of the a Wili, Dayana Hardy Acuna holds an arabesque en pointe, leaning on the shoulder of Oscar Valdes who kneels in front of her. To their right is a line of white tutu clad Wilis. Romantic tale transcends the centuries
    Reviews

    Romantic tale transcends the centuries

    14 May 2021

    West Australian Ballet’s 2021 season of Giselle demonstrates that this 180 year old ballet still has the capacity to touch audience’s hearts, says Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 7 minutesDance
  • Sophia Forrest and Darius Williams in 'I and You' A young man and woman embrace. They are sitting on a bed, with fairy lights in the background. She has a year on her face. The arrival of something special?
    Reviews

    The arrival of something special?

    13 May 2021

    In the high-quality double bill The Children and I and You David Zampatti hopes we might be seeing the emergence of a worthy successor to a long-lost, legendary Perth theatre company.

    Reading time • 7 minutesTheatre
  • Grace Ware, Find a place to sit, 2020. Image courtesy Five images of artist Grace Ware, posing with an inflatable fluorsecent yellow life-jacket type object. She is dressed in black and wears a black face mask. Nurturing passion, hatching fire
    Reviews

    Nurturing passion, hatching fire

    13 May 2021

    The 24 graduate artists showcased in this year’s “Hatched” exhibition have created a powerful and pensive testimonial to their generation, writes Patrick Gunasekera.

    Reading time • 7 minutesVisual Art

Leave a comment

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio