Originally written for and published by The Public Reviews
Writers: Grant Smeaton and Alan Greig
Director: Grant Smeaton
Choreographer: Alan Greig
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
The Public Reviews Rating:
The creative team of Alan Greig and Grant Smeaton have devised, in their own words, “a dance theatre homage” in their show Do You Nomi? This warp-speed trip through the life and times of Nomi is done with genuine affection and appropriate regard for its subject and the innovative form of narrative, fusing the disciplines of avant-garde dance with drama, pays the right amount of respect to Nomi, but has its tongue placed firmly in it’s cheek when recreating the absurdity and insanity of the early 80′s New York, New Wave scene. On one hand it’s a brave writer who decides to tell someone’s life story through modern dance but on the other, entirely fitting for a life like Nomi’s.
The piece is performed essentially by two dancers who also act and two actors who also dance and it’s the two actors, Drew Taylor (Nomi) and Laurie Brown (acting as narrator, flitting between East Village cabaret MC, TV show host and David Bowie in the blink of an eye) who are the most successful. Taylor perfectly encapsulates the gentle, ethereal, almost alien-like presence of Nomi in a perfectly pitched and sensitively portrayed performance. Indeed when we see Nomi alone, isolated and suffering from AIDS, telephoning a friend from his hospital bed, the acting is so well judged that it’s hard to suppress the tears. Brown, with his sonorous voice is a revelation in his multiple roles, utterly compelling whichever character he is inhabiting. The dancers, Jack Webb and Darren Anderson are undoubtedly talented but the dance element of the show is often just distraction, never truly driving the narrative. Indeed the piece could have wider appeal if this was pure drama. Nomi’s intriguing life story has enough substance to make this possible. Worth it to see the sublime Taylor and Brown alone.