Comic mix of stage and home movies sad at heart, writes Dionne Christian

Chris Parker achieves a fine balance between poignancy and humour in his autobiographical tale about a boy's passion for dance and his journey of self-discovery.

There are faint echoes of Billy Elliot, but the grim realism of a North England mining town is replaced by a solidly liberal home in suburban Christchurch.

It is in the dancing that the story really comes to life, as gawky, painfully earnest movements slowly evolve into a self-choreographed epic in which humour softens the emotional torment of a boy's struggle to express feelings he cannot comprehend.

The show uses humour to avoid the self-pitying tone that can plague personal identity stories. Through the cathartic properties of laughter, the audience is able to empathise with the intense self-loathing of a boy learning he does not fit anyone's expectations.


Parker draws on a sophisticated range of performance skills in sympathetic but psychologically perceptive portrayals of his bewildered parents.

His mother's willingness to encourage self-expression is hilariously at odds with an implacable understanding of what is socially acceptable, while his father relies on terse colloquial expressions to voice his feelings.

Director Jo Randerson effectively uses abstract design to create a casual vibe and the production sends up the role-switching conventions of a one-person show with a light touch.

In the feel-good finale, home-movie projections are cleverly mixed with live performance as Parker's refusal to dance is overwhelmed by the need to follow the urgings of his body.

What: No More Dancing in the Good Room
Where: Q Theatre, to February 13.