Review: CONVERSATION PIECE at Dance Massive

Dancers and actors blend – and battle…

By Myron My

In Lucy Guerin’s Conversation Piece, three people appear on stage and have an eight-minute conversation which is recorded using a trusty iPhone. This conversation is different each night and is completely improvised. From there, that conversation is played on loop that creates various experiences for the six performers and audience members through acting and dance.


The dancers (Stephanie Lake, Alisdair Macindoe and Byron Perry) have great fluidity in their movements and were great to watch dancing together. There were a few moments that lacked synchronicity but as a whole, it was pretty hard to take our eyes away from them. Likewise, the three actors (Matthew Whittet, Katherine Tonkin and Megan Holloway) seemed completely at ease in their roles. What was of interest to me was having the performers doing the opposite of what they were trained in. You could see the obvious level of skill that the dancers possessed over the actors and vice versa yet they all held their own with strong commitment to what they were creating.

In the performance I attended, the standout work was the pairing of Macindoe and Whittet. Their combined efforts using the earlier conversation to create a ‘new’ one, and the dancing that then came from that was highly enjoyable as was its later intensity. Furthermore Tonkin’s improvised stinging speech to Lake using the original conversation as inspiration was amazing to watch with heightened tension thanks to lighting designer, Damien Cooper.

Conversation Piece doesn’t go where you initially think it will – this is its strength. What begins as a light and humorous conversation does take a few dark turns and the last few minutes are particularly sinister which leaves you with a feeling that these two art forms – dancing and acting – cannot co-exist. They both need to be in control, to be the leader, as if they are rival gangs fighting for turf. This mood crept up on me but then hit me quite suddenly and took me to some unexpected places. Conversation Piece is playing as part of the  contemporary dance festival Dance Massive and despite its grim outcome, creates a beautiful fusion between dance and performance.

Venue: Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne

Season: Until 24 March | 8:30pm, Sat 2:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Concession