Blue Love, Presented by Shaun Parker & Company, Civic Theatre, October 20 & 21 at 8pm
For a dancer and choreographer with a collection of such raucous, playful and flamboyant productions to his credit, it is a surprise to find that Shaun Parker has suddenly gotten serious.
Whilst he has rarely been a performer to shy away from the bigger issues, never before has this award-winning artist come to shine the spotlight so squarely upon himself.
When his latest dance show, Blue Love, opens at the Civic Theatre on October 20th, Parker will be inviting his audience to view an emotional portrait framed by his very own, and sometimes very difficult experiences.
The even bigger surprise is that Shaun Parker and his dance company have still managed to make all of this an enormous amount of fun.
From a tale that could easily have turned into an introspective, slow-moving melodrama, Parker has constructed an hilarious satire of love, relationships and the many youthful soundtracks that our more serious adult lives inevitably leave behind.
The story follows the accumulating misfortunes of Glenn (played by Parker) and Rhonda Flune (Jo Stone), a married couple in their late 40s carrying their fair share of emotional baggage. Parker first imagined these characters after filming a series of playful and slightly sarcastic home movies potraying a young couple who stumble upon their love for one another through their shared passion for pop music.
In the Blue Love that later developed from these short films, Parker represents the spectres of our emotional pasts by projecting the home movies onto the back of the set. As the Flumes struggle to compose their individual musics into the finished symphony of a functional relationship, the audience can follow the films projected from the past to better understand the turmoils that Glenn and Rhonda face today.
Almost as important as what the audience sees in these projections, Shaun says, is what the couple can perceive in it themselves.
“What is great about this work is that an older married couple can look back at one another during their honeymoon phase and comment about it from an older perspective,” he says. “How their romantic love has survived through the ages of their relationship is there for both of them to see.”
As Len and Rhonda drink, dance and then sentimentalise - in roughly that order – Shaun, as both performer, director and choreographer, uses the music they once loved as a nostalgic motif for what they once loved about each other. Shaun acknowledges, and the show goes on to explore, the somewhat dangerous habit we all have of glorifying the good old days of our more romantic yesteryears.
“Filling your mind with nostalgic thoughts can feel so amazing at the time,” he says. “But it is always a double-edged sword. It can be beautiful but it can be dangerous.”
Filling your mind with nostalgic thoughts can feel so amazing at the time. But it is always a double-edged sword. It can be beautiful but it can be dangerous.Blue Love creator Shaun Parker
It can also, if the overwhelmingly positive responses to Blue Love are anything to go by, be extremely funny.
Shaun Parker may have gotten serious, but it only seems to last for a minute or two. Moments after his thoughts of swords, darkness and danger, Parker is suddenly laughing all over again.
“There is always humour to be found in our relationships,” he says. “Hopefully in Glenn and Rhonda the audience can laugh at the parts of those characters that they can see in themselves.”