Houstoun/Stoffer/Gonen, Spring Loaded

Review in Issue 8-2 | Summer 1996

Eclectic is an understatement when used in conjunction with this triple bill at the Place. It was unfortunate that Shelee Gonen’s Chronika was programmed first, particularly considering the shows that were to follow. Based on an idea from Arnesto Sebato’s book About Graves and Heroes, the piece explored ‘the dialogue conducted by a person with himself’. Although the incorporation of suspended opaque paper was visually stimulating, the movement vocabulary was uninspiring to say the least; the performer/choreographer falling into the contemporary dance trap of ‘movement for movement’s sake’. The piece failed to speak to me – the dancers merely moving in front of me, rather than actually moving me.

Ted Stoffer’s solo Strings Attached, was often equally meaningless but one could not help but be impressed by the man’s ingenuity. Suspended from the lighting rig by a bungee rope, Stoffer explored the movement possibilities within this stifling environment. As a metaphor for one’s desire to attain something unattainable the piece worked well. It did, however, fail to go anywhere (literally and metaphorically) and I would rather see his concept used as a part of a show rather than a show in itself.

Fortunately for the aforementioned pieces, Wendy Houstoun’s Haunted was programmed last. As a piece of theatre, it was excellent. As a piece of dance, it was excellent. As a performance per se it was outstanding. Houstoun has the ability to combine her wit (in the true meaning of the word) and exquisite performance technique to create superbly integrated pseudo-autobiographical theatre. On stage, all she required was a chair and microphone to support her mesmerising performance. In her writing/devising, she possesses the ability to develop the comic into the tragic into the pathetic with great ease. Yet the comedy never becomes hysterical and the tragedy never becomes ridiculous. With Haunted, Houstoun produced a remarkable performance that should inspire all who love theatre.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-2
p. 22