Good Morning Mister Gershwin
Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu @ Festival Theatre
8:00pm, Thu 11 Mar 2010
There’s oodles of empty seats in the stalls at Festival Theatre; but I’m buoyed by the massive video screen at the back of the stage. “Warning – this performance contains nudity” it proclaims.
Blimey, I thought. French dance, Gershwin tunes, and nudity? Jackpot.
And, as Good Morning Mister Gershwin begins, you pretty quickly realise why that warning was there; because the opening couple of minutes consisted of video of the dancers swimming in the buff. There’s the odd plastic smile there, too, but it comes across as anything but sexy. Peaceful, maybe.
And then the live performance begins – and initially it’s fantastic. It’s hitting all the right notes for me – very dynamic, limbs seeming being flung around with abandon, but a remarkable level of control being used. It’s colourful and exciting…
…but something’s not quite right. There seems to be a real distance between the movement and the music; sure, there may be a really well-performed robot dance on display, but there’s seemingly no connection to Gershwin’s jaunty tune that burbles along behind it. And, for the most part, the video screen was used as a distracting background; but then there was a fifteen minute piece focussed on the civil rights movement. Was that a video of Rodney King being beaten in the background?
Contrast that with the brilliantly funny gargling skit. Or the larger lass with the eclair and pink ball. Again – there’s some magnificent flexibility and balance and strength on display by the men in the Compagnie, and the short blonde woman was an amazing singer. And the tap bits were pretty slick, too. But the vast discrepancies in mood, coupled with the musical selections that, at times, seemed to heighten the contrast, just made this a frustrating experience.
Look – this was very entertaining… for the first fifty minutes. Once the videos of heaving oceans and civil rights protests and boat people appeared, the dance itself slowed to a torpor. And that’s a massive shame, because the opening promised so much goodness.