Adelaide Festival: AM I

Josh Mu in Am I. Photo by Michele Aboud
Josh Mu in Am I. Photo by Michele Aboud

Choreographer Shaun Parker’s latest offering AM I takes its audience on a didactic journey from a time pre-Big Bang to somewhere post-Apocalypse. All the while trying to explain everything human in-between. Often using an on stage, spoken-word narrator.

While AM I discusses the violence and anguish of life, it explores very little of it’s love and none of its joy, unlike Parker’s predecessor Happy As Larry. AM I does provide enough humorous moments but even a deliberately comical sex scene is expressed as an industrial slog rather than as an adult pastime.

Composer Nick Wales has put together an excellent group of musicians and the live music is a definite plus to the show. Performing on a platform suspended at the rear of the stage and Damien Cooper’s lighting design intelligently reveals different members of the band at different times during the course of the performance. Sung and played superbly, it’s style is ‘Superheavy’ light with its fusion of styles and instruments – in short, contemporary world music true to its calling but it does lack Mick Jagger’s ballsy grit.

[pull_left]Parker is at his best when he translates what he wants to say strictly in terms of dance[/pull_left]

The dexterity of the dancers – in particular the use of their arms, hands and fingers is a notable part of this show (it’s becoming a signature of Parker’s). While Sophia Ndaba, Jessie Oshodi, Marnie Palomares, Melanie Palomares, Shantala Shivalingappa and Julian Wong are all exquisitely talented; Josh Mu is the salient dancer. He commands the stage both with his dramatic range and the perfect control he exercises over his body.

AM I is an imaginative and entertaining show and its backdrop – a wall of light globes, is used very effectively with the narrative structure (not to mention bloody bright and bloody hot at times).

Parker is at his best when he translates what he wants to say strictly in terms of dance. The didacticism in AM I is a distraction taking Parker, and his audience, away from what he does best and what they enjoy best. It really is best to simply tell the story through the music, the staging and the choreography and trust the audience to “get” it. Besides, Popeye put it more succinctly – “I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *