Re: OK… But! is one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.
For one and a half hours, I sat in front mesmerised by the all-out levels of physical and emotional intensity as THE Dance Company brought to life this uber dark collaboration between choreographers Kuik Swee Boon and fest guest Kim Jae Duk.
From the very first scene of two men gasping for breath and hyperventilating as they collapse on the floor, you are dragged into this world of conflict, seething with menace and violence. Dancers Lee Mun Wai and Zhuo Zihao are seemingly locked in a heated argument, punctuated by forceful hand gestures (a flurry of sign language-like flick of fingers, Italian mobster-type posturings) culminating with Lee crouched over Zhuo and slapping him for, like, ages. But not before the sight of both seemingly slamming against the force of sound itself, flung backward at every drop of the bass accompaniment.
And that’s all just for starters, mind you. Kuik/Kim expands on this theme of antagonistic relations and evokes different sensations as Re: OK… But! alternates between cheeky, sensual and downright absurd, courtesy of the rest of the THE gang entering the fray. Jessica Christina amusingly tiptoes in place, newest member William Wu’s face contorts in silent, unadulterated laughter, and Yarra Ileto, stripped to her undies exhaling and moaning and moving about like an aimless doll until she’s put into her place. She later on embarks on a monologue about two stubborn men, neither of which gives in to the argument (while simultaneously having a “duet” with a mic stand). And as if all these weren’t enough of a mindf**k, the two choreographers enter the arena like some weird music duo – with Kim seemingly chanting gibberish (awesome voice, I should add) and Kuik looking all Lennon with a guitar(!).
Its intensity, hints of playfulness, choreographic/lighting decisions and the centrality of sound/music in keeping the piece together will undoubtedly lead to comparisons to Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother. Certainly, I was reminded of it. But I would think of that as more of a compliment than a criticism. It’s hard to pull off a high-octane performance from start to finish that constantly keeps a viewer on his or her toes. I was completely swept up by this piece and could feel it swagger confidently to the finish line. That earlier slack jaw comment? That was literal.
Re: OK… But! may be about the underlying tensions in relationships, but from where I was seated, it all came together – the perfect piece to showcase Singapore’s best dance company that, in its willingness to up the stakes, finds itself at the top of its game.
(There’s one more show later today. Details here.)