Review: The Plusies -Friends -The Place

Performance: 22 June 2013
Reviewed by Jeffrey Gordon Baker - Monday 24 June 2013

The Plusies (Riccardo Buscarini & Runa Kaiser). Photo: Monica Mendez Aneiros

Riccardo Buscarini’s show at The Place last weekend was virtually the opposite in content and flavour to Athletes, the work which bagged him the prestigious Place Prize earlier this year. Pairing up with choreographer Runa Kaiser to form a whimsical rock band called The Plusies, Friends is awash in a bubble gum glam punk aesthetic and structured around a collection of songs about dead pets and lost loves. It’s a seemingly intentional and spirited departure from the sterile sci-fi genre formalism of Athletes, and perhaps a way to let off some steam and have a bit of fun after the tight ostentation of that work.

Buscarini and Kaiser each take song and dance solos, taking turns performing and illustrating the lyrics of tunes they penned themselves, alternately comical and morbid, rocking and melancholy. The choreography includes plenty of the jerky alien-insect moves characteristic of Buscarini’s work, in which weight is exchanged in lurching passes, extremities twitch and joints jut out and fold in angular thrusts and collapses. Here the style is employed as the staging of a kind of Bowie-esque concept album concert.

Neither Kaiser nor Buscarini are singers; she struggled throughout to stay on pitch and both were barely audible over Domenico Angarano’s bass, Eric Frajira’s Drums and Vincenzo Lamagna’s guitar, which were cranked up way over the vocal mic volume. Buscarini was full of beans, however, fuelled perhaps by his recent win and subsequent celebrity status. A voiceover that opened the piece even brazenly referred to him as “the hottest shit in town” and his rock out solos were full of frenetic gestures and big party smiles. In comparison Kaiser was a bit lacklustre in energy.

Since it was pretty impossible to hear them live, the lyrics to the songs were handed out with the programme and it’s clear from reading them that there was a thoughtful undercurrent to the work. Kishan J. Maynard-Clarke’s set design, Michael Mannion’s lights and the costumes by Buscarini were all sufficiently pink to hold it all together scenographically – even the liquid in the band’s water bottles was candy coloured! Style did ultimately trump substance, but Friends was none too short on endearing enthusiasm.

Photo: Monica Mendez Aneiros

Jeffrey Gordon Baker is a transplanted New Yorker living in London; an artist and writer who has studied art, performance and aesthetics at New York University, Central St Martins and Birkbeck College.

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