"Experimental, political, and hilarious." Pic by Bryony Jackson.
Witty, sardonic, and centred by a magnetic warmth and Vicki Van Hout’s mastery of dance, plenty serious TALK TALK riffs on modern conversations about First Nations identity and its commodification through multimedia, stand-up, dance and performance. Performed as part of YIRRAMBOI Festival, the work is an uneven, but ultimately strong, hour of performance.
The air of experimentation through the piece isn’t always to its benefit; some ideas feel they need refining before becoming something that really lands. For instance, there’s an extended portion of the performance where Van Hout slips into the persona of a wannabe drug dealer, bag of white powder and all, that trails off into a joke about ‘substance’ but doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Other parts, such as anything involving the character ‘Ms Light Tan’, prompt questions that linger long after the laughter fades. She presents a strong, irreverent perspective on the commodification of Indigenous culture, both prodding at the processes behind it and leaving the questions raised unanswered. This includes a multimedia section where an interviewee is asked the price of a coffee, a car and a house, before being asked the value of Indigeneity. Put to text, it seems a remarkably grim joke but Van Hout’s unique perspective — both dry and deeply earnest — makes it work.
The things Van Hout does with her decades’ worth of experience as a dancer are enough for the show to demand an audience. With not much more than a stomp or a twist, she establishes a mood for the next segment, allowing her to string together a range of sketches in a way that feels organic and is deeply entertaining. Plenty serious TALK TALK is a show that’s experimental, political, and hilarious.