Saturday, 9 March 2019

REVIEW: Shelley Owen and Josh Slater in TRY|TRYING|TRIED at Blue Elephant Theatre

Fri 08 Mar
Blue Elephant Theatre
Shelley Owen and Josh Slater - TRY|TRYING|TRIED

Contemporary dance artists Shelley Owen and Josh Slater explore the vulnerability of human relationships. The opening of the episodic duet sees Owen and Slater sat side-by-side on chairs upstage. They could be two strangers in a train station or a couple in their own kitchen. Owen moves softly with arms that sweep and thread. Dressed in jeans and t-shirts, the couple run and walk about the space. There is nothing formal, nor pretentious, about TRY|TRYING|TRIED.

Josh Slater and Shelley Owen in TRY|TRYING|TRIED

The duo step forward toward two tidy piles of clothes, folded carefully on blocks. They layer up, pulling on long-sleeves, jumpers, hats and scarfs over their heads. The tone changes: suddenly it's a competition. The couple pose provocatively on the blocks, arching their backs and throwing their heads back. The competitive posing eventually ends with Owen and Slater scrabbling around on the floor tearing at their clothes until both are naked but for their underwear.  

The soundscape of pedestrian sounds, chatter and rail announcements gives way to the retro soul of Paloma Faith's Just Be. Clad in a black bra and underpants, Owen opens a bottle of red wine and sets out two glasses. While Slater carefully folds the clothes that are now strewn about the space, Owen drinks half the bottle of wine. A distinctly somber tone seems to permeate TRY|TRYING|TRIED during this episode. Despite how affecting Paloma Faith's lyrics are, it might have been more moving to see Owen polish off that half a bottle of wine in total silence. 

Shelley Owen and Josh Slater in TRY|TRYING|TRIED

TRY|TRYING|TRIED honestly reveals the sensitivity and vulnerability of intimate relationships. Overall, Owen and Slater present a refreshingly unpretentious and honest work of dance, which left me simply wanting more. I wanted to know more about the competition within the relationship and I wanted more about that half a bottle of red wine. 

Maya Pindar

TRY|TRYING|TRIED continues for one more night at Blue Elephant Theatre on Sat 09 March 2019. For more information and to book tickets head over to the website.

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