Sunday, 10 May 1998

Bonehead by Chunky Move, May, 1998


Bonehead by Chunky Move 
Merlin Theatre Malthouse until May 30, 1998


NB This review was published in The Melbourne Times in 1998

You can bet Luke Smiles felt a bit of a bonehead when he tore his metamucil-something ligament four hours before the opening night of Bonehead last Wednesday. But heck, nothing was going to stop Artistic Director Gideon Oberzanek launching Victoria's new contemporary dance company, Chunky Move.

In a courageous and very successful last minute dash, he selected three fragments of Bonehead: Nightmare, Soap and another, and presented an edited highlights show. Oberzanek introduced segments and with Byron Perry and newcomer David Tyndall danced Smiles'  roles.

Chunky Move is known for its innovation and fresh energy but this takes the cake. This season is a reworking of the company's original narrative-based show  but not even the ever-inventive Oberzanek could have anticipated this kind of restructure. It was exciting to see how he solved the problem.
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His choreography is characteristically rigorous, vigorous and punishing. The distortion and contortion of bodies celebrates the ugly made beautiful. As Jeff Kennett said in his speech to launch the company, the work is always "provocative, innovative, daring and very, very physical." These bods are toned. Have you ever seen women with six-pack stomach muscles?

Nightmare is just that: a scary dream sequence. Women in underwear are tossed about like baggage and abused. A bizarre Frankenfurter creature of the night prowls about draped in fairy lights carrying a lamp perched over his head. Two men wrestle.  This is Punky Move.
Soap is a wildly funny comic book routine complete with "Thwack, Blam" foley effects and a remote-controlled knife-weilding Go-Go dancer. The soundscape by Supersonic is a knock-out. The last piece contains a graphic, often violent struggle between a man and woman to an almost pop sound track. This is Funky Move.

It was a treat to see this bare bones Bonehead. I'm looking forward to more.

KATE HERBERT