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He Said She Said - Melbourne Fringe Review

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by Aridhi Anderson (subscribe)
Aridhi Anderson is a theatre director, writer and performer based in Melbourne. She writes about live shows, arts, culture and more at www.arichecksthingsout.com.
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A dance and physical theatre show about a rom-com gone wrong
He Said She Said is a powerful contemporary dance and physical theatre show created and directed by Dan Ham, choreographed by Dan Ham and Benjamin Cure, and produced by Lion Heart Dance Company. It's a high energy, engaging show about love in the style of romantic comedies, but without the promise of a happily ever after. It is structured around classic love stories, traditional gender roles, and typical causes of relationship conflicts. It's an effective visual and aural commentary about perspective in all these things, and how different our sympathies can be depending on what point of view we're exposed to (and on who gets the last word).

Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.
Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.


His story: he has just graduated, and everything's right with the world. He proposes to his girl, who turns him down for another girl. He struggles with depression and spirals into an alcohol habit. Bit by bit, his life falls apart. Until he meets her. She catches his eye and he works up the strength to ask her out. They fall in love, and he begins to rebuild his life. Work gets stressful, though, and at home, she starts to get demanding, to the point of craziness. When things start to get toxic, he finds himself straying and paying attention to another woman, a colleague at work who has been good to him.

Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.
Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.


Her story: she's in a committed relationship, and everything's right with the world. But her partner is unfaithful, and she's still processing the pain when he comes along and asks her out. She isn't interested at first, but he wins her over. She helps him rebuild his confidence and his life and thinks everything's going great. Until she notices other women paying attention to him... and him reciprocating. Still, on the rebound from her previous relationship, and still on the mend from the pain of being cheated on, she finds herself increasingly upset at his behaviour. She does her best to make things work, but not all love stories have happy endings.

Cynthia Sacco, Amelia Homes and Alexia Brinsley in He Said She Said.
Cynthia Sacco, Amelia Homes and Alexia Brinsley in He Said She Said.


He Said She Said is an energetic, skilful, funny, and emotional show that will resonate with anyone who enjoys dance and music, and has experienced or witnessed romantic relationships. Dan Ham and Alexia Brinsley are brilliant as the leads in this show: they embody their characters with absolute conviction, they share the stage well and complement each other's stories harmoniously. This is particularly remarkable as they play not only the lead role in their own version of the story, but also the supporting role in the opposite version, and perform both roles to perfection. Jane Kingsford plays 'the other woman' marvellously in both versions of the story, maintaining an important overall neutrality of character, while also embodying those characteristics that reflect the lead's impression of her, depending on whose version of the story is being told. Supporting dancers John Reed, Cynthia Sacco and Amelia Homes are equally valuable to the show, each performing their parts with energy, charisma, gracefulness and impact.

Jane Kingsford in He Said She Said.
Jane Kingsford in He Said She Said.


For a show that is almost entirely devoid of text or dialogue, except on three very brief occasions, it is a fantastic achievement to portray such a clear and unambiguous story, complete with fleshed-out characters, scenarios, and nuanced perspectives. It helps, of course, that the selection of music for this show is impeccable. The choreography is as aesthetically pleasing as it is clever and potent. Characterization is a great strength of this show: Dan Ham's character is portrayed as a somewhat grounded, physically-led, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of character, while Alexia Brinsley's character is more abstract, mentally and emotionally-led, and more prone to reflection, anxiety and overthinking. Both characters, while portraying fairly standard stories with fairly predictable progressions, are designed and executed in a manner that gives substance to stereotypes, and adds drama and variety to the experience of the show. And even though the first and second acts of the show are basically the same story told twice, it never feels repetitive or boring. On the contrary, things like clever movements hidden within one act, when mirrored in the other act, evoke a sense of familiarity and investment which makes the show that much more enjoyable.

Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.
Alexia Brinsley and Dan Ham in He Said She Said. Photo credit: Jason Lau Photography.


He Said She Said is a highly entertaining show with a steady pace, strong energy, great variety, brilliant choreography and direction, and skilful, beautiful performances. It's the sort of show where when you've watched the first act, you wonder how the second act can possibly live up to it, but it does, and powerfully so. It's a show that is easy to get fully immersed in, and the satisfying finale leaves you feeling completely resolved. For structure, entertainment quality, and satisfactory resolution, He Said She Said is one of the best shows I've seen this year.
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Why? Energetic, powerful, emotional dance show
When: 27-30 September 2018
Phone: (03) 9660 9666
Where: Melbourne Dance Centre, 75 Weston St, Brunswick 3056
Cost: $35
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