May 19, 2008

BURST Festival: Love Song Dedication (Rosie Dennis)

How fucking romantic. All the stars are out. Twinkling, twinkling, twinkling. Fluttering about.

Stephen Merritt’s low drawl is a bruised apple wrapped in a thick hard layer of treacly sarcasm. At its heart it’s soft and wounded and desperate for love.

Rosie Dennis stands in an empty spotlight in a shiny green top. She moves, not in time to the music but with it. She is hard and definite and sharp and precise, but this jagged physicality is only the outward display of something gentler, something softer, something hearbreakingly familiar.

Someone once did a study that showed that the things we are most disturbed by are the things most like ourselves. Zombies, aliens, robots, ghosts - things that are like us but not quite us. Things ever so slightly estranged. Unreal.

This is I think why Rosie Dennis unique style is so utterly engaging. Her movements are so familiar. The ticks, the shakes, the tension, the moments of sudden release, like someone on the verge of a suffocating panic attack, like Ian Curtis on the verge of a seizure, like anyone swallowing their anger and their pain and their frustration and carrying on with what they were doing. The same could be said of her words, a looping, repetitive anxious chatter, she stutters through words and sentences with an all-too-familiar mixture of fear and confidence; so very sure you want to say something, not sure exactly how to say it, not sure if anyone will want to listen. Words get repeated, fragments of sentences appear and reappear; the whole thing feels like a sea of half explained ideas, washing relentlessly against the shore.

All of this everyday anxiety, uncertainty, tension, sadness is caught mid flight - wrapped in the rigid confines of Rosie’s unerringly exact performance. All that loose, messy, human chaos replicated delicately and precisely. Despite the crystallized beauty of her carefully constructed movements and her finely crafted text, we can see through this polished exterior to the soft, tender, bruised emotions at its heart. It is our own sadness, our own yearnings, our own loves, just made ever so slightly estranged. Unreal.

This show, like Hitting a Brick Wall (the other part of this double bill) is a show that presents its heartbreaking, life-affirming honesty with a care and a thoughtfulness and a distance that is almost irresistible.

I don’t remember what exactly Rosie sang at the end of this show, her own song, her own love song dedication, I just remember that in its tender, trusting, openness (a little bit beautiful, a little bit rubbish, but totally brutally open) it felt like anything I’ve ever done for someone I truly love.

1 comment:

Andrew Haydon said...

Oddly, it's Stephin Merritt (with an I). No need to publish this, or even change it, I'm just mentioning it because I'm pedantic.