Review by Andrea Bunjamin
Love/Love/Love/Love/Love centres on a personal exploration of that all encompassing, and oftentimes, unbearable emotion we feel in life. In her Australian debut, Tessa Redman takes the stage with this dance theatre solo to showcase an unapologetic manifestation of love in all its messy nuances – setting us up for a rollercoaster of heightened sensations.
As we all settle down, Redman steps into the spotlight in front of the audience. Right from the jump, she makes a declaration. That the choreography she was about to perform stems deeply from the personal experiences she has encountered. The love she has felt in all its different forms. And that this physical space we have all gathered in is meant to be a safe place. Along with the unspoken need to establish trust from each audience member as she places herself in these vulnerable states. Her expressions in every movement are simply real and raw.
The show is structured like a series of letters to certain people in her life and also to the various parts of herself. After every routine, she re-centres herself back into that same spotlight to make her next address. Her contemporary sporadic and visceral movements were accompanied by a minimalistic set and lighting design by Elekis Poblete Teirney; singular lighting fixtures and four reflective curtains in the background, creating a new blank page for every dance routine. Also allowing more playful silhouettes during intimate moments.
The sound design by Jackie Jenkins which consisted of techno tracks during the ‘Love Warm-Up’, Redman’s first routine, provided both a spiritual nature in the beginning, and then quickly morphed into a dizzying pace. Almost emulating the thumping of a heartbeat. While music plays a huge role in painting her emotions, Redman doesn’t shy away from using silence in her choreography to emphasise some heated points. Through minimal narration and verbal repetition she’s able to convey the facet of agony that comes with being in love, an internal yearning that often embarrases us. Whether that be the love for a crush or a sibling.
On the topic of repetition, Redman manages to perform these cycles of movements as a motif to create build up, which at times were lost as the energy in some of her specific motions start to fluctuate. The unshameful primal gestures that she sprinkles during lighthearted parts provides effective relief from some heavy scenes, but had occasionally felt too random and sudden during these transitions.
The underlying strength in this performance could arguably be her pacing. At the very start, she announces that this show will begin at the performer’s discretion. A simple statement that when you think about it says so many unspoken things about what the show is about. Most notably, ‘We are doing this on my terms.’ As we sit through those stretched uncomfortable moments or whenever she’s in a state of despair, Redman asks her audience to be patient. A reminder that this is also what love entails.
Even when she’s laying it all out, this show is not meant to be fully interpreted. Not everything has to make sense. Through her passion for dance, Redman manages to tell us about the lingering aftermath of her treasured memories. And has left us to ponder about our own internal relationship with love. That’s all.