Love is a series of painful memories and mistakes, a lifetime of passive-aggressive recrimination; it is excruciating to anyone outside of it, but for those in it love breeds a mutual familiarity and enduring strength. Blue Love, at least, the globe-trotting show which has landed at the Roundhouse Theatre for La Boite.
This is romance like an old and torn armchair. Daggy and outdated yet somehow retro-cool. Functional and comfortable but altogether unattractive; its real appeal lies in the deep sentimental value. Pre-modern yet post-modern, in the circular way of how things like this work. In the circular way love works.
Indeed, it's hard to put a finger on this zippy little hour-long performance piece. It is an all-singing, all-dancing unspectacular that at least charms and probably makes you think. In the agonisingly awkward tradition of British comedy like The Office and Alan Partridge (and the comparison with the latter is unavoidable), it is both silly and smart; funny and gently moving, in that bittersweet sort of way.
The show spiel calls it a "wildly entertaining expedition in search of the perfect relationship", where "TV soap meets art-house film, ‘60s kitsch meets medieval love song, and pop culture cliché meets breathtaking poignancy." Or something like that.
Shaun Parker, a choreographer on TV mega-hit So You Think You Can Dance and a featured dancer in films like Moulin Rouge!, has won acclaim across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Germany for a show as strange as it is universal. This is his baby, as director, writer, designer and choreographer. He developed the idea as a short dance film before fleshing out the live show.
Parker is Glenn Flune, who with wife Rhonda (accomplished stage and screen actress Lucia Mastrantone) takes the audience into their "Love Arena" - a stark, sketched out living area - for a bizarre guided tour of their enduring romance - all the stress, pain, hurt, resentment and, still, real love.
They introduce film clips of their love dance, projected onto their white living room walls, spliced into the act seamlessly and beguiling in their own peculiar way. They sing duets and recreate scenes littered with pop culture references. And they dance to a disjointed beat of mega-mix pop. The moves are languid but lucid; Parker's slapstick tango with Mastrantone's limber, lifeless body is particularly hypnotic and the show highlight.
Both performers are terrific, drawing laughs through impeccable timing and eliciting empathy with the Flune's shameless charm. It's all over in a flash, leaving the audience giggling (with them, not at them), cheering for these suburban superstars, contemplating love in all its weird and wonderful forms, without entirely knowing why.
La Boite Theatre Company
Venue: Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove
Season: Tuesday 28 April - Saturday 9 May 2009
Times: Mon - Wed 6.30pm, Thurs - Sat 8pm
Matinees: Thu 30 April 11am and Sat 9 May 2pm
Tickets: from $20