Creator: Gunilla Heilborn
Reviewer: David Keane
A lightning flash and a thunder clap herald the arrival of two performers, Johan Thelander and Kristiina Viiala. The storm rages momentarily and then the story begins. Or rather stories. Exploring the creative process as well as the lived experience of the team, This is Not a Love Story delves into the possibilities that await in every story. Each choice, no matter how apparently inconsequential, has an impact on the outcome of the tale. “Sometimes doing nothing leads to something, sometimes doing something leads to nothing”.
For 55 minutes Thelander and Viiala perform a combination of dance, speech, and song. There’s also a good deal of choreographed walking, the re-enacting of a film scene, and lots of talk about whales. The juxtaposition between the bizarre content and the monotonous dead pan delivery boarders on absurdity, yet oddly works. From the midway point the collective feeling of is it okay to laugh at this gives way to stifled giggles, followed by all out laughter, and once that happens there is no going back.
Choreographed by Heilbron in collaboration with the two performers, the dance is more reflective and introspective than adding any overt meaning to the piece. The same could be said for much of the show, where the links between the segments are tentative at best. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to matter.
There are plenty of head-scratching moments and in places the performance drags it’s heels but overall This is Not a Love Story is an enjoyable experience that is refreshing and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Thelander and Viiala could just as easily been performing stand-up comedy and that, too, would be a show worth checking out.
Runs until 14 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: contributed