Original, honest and brave, No One Likes Me intertwines raw emotion with physical expression.
Image by Sarah Walker
No One Likes Me is a confronting and passionate piece of theatre that provides audiences with an insight into the life of creator and performer Darren Vizer. Part of the 2014 Midsumma Festival, the performance is made up of various monologues and choreographed pieces focusing on significant events from Vizer’s past, most of which are emotional and riddled with heart-break.
The play opens with a fairly bare stage containing only a clothes rack placed to one side, and a range of wigs, dresses and heels sitting neatly upon and around it. Vizer enters the performance space playing the schoolboy version of himself. Swinging from the staircase and becoming increasingly excitable, he begins to re-enact his childhood dream of being a woman, followed by a string of characters and scenes reconstructed by his own memories. What we see throughout this hour-long trip through the performer’s past is a sad and vulnerable young man who has faced some serious challenges in his life, and has come through to the other side with an admirable confidence that has allowed him to share his story with complete strangers in a darkened room.
The script is tight, with some poignant one-liners, and it is clear that much thought and care has been folded into this creation. Vizer’s background in dance and choreography is also incorporated into the mix, with several movement pieces depicting some of the darker aspects of his story. At times, the small performance space at the La Mama theatre cramps the flow of the dance sequences, however Vizer’s energy does not falter and his dedication to maintaining his focus is impressive.
In one particular scene, voiceovers are mobilised. These are admittedly distracting to begin with, as the voices disrupt the fragile and intimate atmosphere that has been slowly evolving. As the voiceovers continue though, they help create a new layer of vulnerability in Vizer’s performance, as he reacts with a real pain to what is being shouted at him from all directions. The on-stage action is sometimes difficult to watch as it is as if we are being subjected to events that have been long-suppressed and that we generally expect to remain private: dark stories about suicide contemplation and the ongoing struggle to fit in leave a couple of audience members brushing away tears between scenes.
No One Likes Me covers a range of socially relevant topics, from bullying and suicide, to HIV and acceptance (or lack of). We watch a young boy fight to escape the prejudice that follows him around, all the while becoming more and more isolated and unhappy with himself. He wants to be ‘fixed’ and dreams of being heard. Vizer’s portrayal of his relationship with his father is horrific and real, and his sexually-driven drag queen monologue combines elements of laugh-out-loud humour and some confronting insights into his adult life. Original, honest and brave, No One Likes Me intertwines raw emotion with physical expression, and is a show definitely worth seeing at Midsumma 2014.
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5
No One Likes Me
Devised and performed by Darren Vizer
Written by Darren Vizer
Co-written by Amy Malsem
Script Collaboration & Development: Suzie Hardgrave
Directed by Maurie Johns
La Mama Courthouse, Carlton
23 Jan - 2 Feb