Created and performed by Darren Vizer, No One Likes Me is about being different: growing up as a homosexual in a school system of intolerance, dealing with a family built on traditional gender-roles and coming out against a backdrop of drug use, sexually transmitted diseases and prejudice.
The story is an amalgamation of caricatures that reveal not only moments in the protagonist’s life, but aspects of his psychology. Vizer transforms into these characters – from the innocent youth who likes dressing up in female clothing (a difference that results in isolation and abuse), to the cross-dressing gender-bending night owl hooking up in some of London’s most famous gay bars – with their personal idiosyncrasies, qualms and observations.
The journey itself is driven by theme and there is a remarkable sense in which the story, with its use of repetition, reflects the structure of memory as the mind attempts to deal with past traumas. Key phrases are repeated, as if the protagonist is attempting to grapple with their weight. But when words no longer suffice, dance must follow.
Vizer slips between dance and storytelling with ease, but it is his control and physicality that is the most profound. Explosions of physical exuberance puncture the often-comic stories with a tragic subtext. The balance between comedy and tragedy is fine and the score does well to avoid taking a heavy hand to some of the themes being explored. Unfortunately, some of the music and audio at times tears us away from engaging with the piece with clunky editing, while recorded dialogue often overstates what the body is already expressing. Similarly, some lulls in the performance occurred during late lighting cues, which left Vizer in limbo, but only for a few seconds.
The text itself, co-written by Vizer and Amy Malsem, is honest and personal. At the end of the piece, we are left with the feeling of being privy to a portion of life, with all of its complexity, sadness and confusion.