If you have ever seen Dave Callan’s dance performance to Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ that instigated the first ‘A Little Less Conversation’ (if you haven’t, Google it – it’s hilarious!), you may be a bit surprised by A Little Less Conversation 3: Even More Less Conversation. Unlike the quite polished and well-rehearsed performance to ‘Single Ladies’, ‘A Little Less Conversation’ is always a bit chaotic, although no less amusing. Number 3 is no exception. Performed on a miniscule stage at Trades Hall, Callan is accompanied by dancers Emma Russell, Jess Quinn and Amber Liebenberg. The stage is, to say the least, crowded. Especially when umbrellas become involved.
The humour in A Little Less Conversation 3 relies more on the frenetic performance by Callan and friends, than it does on the incongruity of a middle aged man performing stereotypically feminine and sexualised dance moves. Following the format of the previous incarnations, A Little Less Conversation 3 takes us on a tour of music and dance through the ages. In an unexpected and unwanted twist, this year Callan is dealing with a severe knee injury and performing wearing a knee brace and carrying a cane. Despite the injury that is clearly causing significant difficulty (and pain) Callan gives 100% (as promised). When the show ends with him collapsed on the stage, apparently unable to rise, it’s not hard to believe that is based on truth, rather than dramatic license. The show is filled with energetic parodies of well-known dance routines to match each song, frantic ‘costume changes’ (generally consisting of an item of clothing/accessory half on, falling off, or too small) and flying props.
The show is divide loosely into 3 sections of music history, separated by brief intervals of you tube videos, FAQ’s and audience interaction, which give the performers a much needed chance to catch their breath (and organise the next selection of crazy props and costumes). The small stage, fast pace, and the extremely brief duration of each song mean that the dance routines are sometimes less ‘polish’ and more slapstick than the well-known ‘Single Girls’ performance. In light of this, Callan’s injury and oft-present cane simply add to the hilarity, rather than impeding the performance.
There are also several pre-recorded ‘Callan’ versions of famous music videos interspersed throughout the show, which seems fortuitous in light of his injury. These, the You Tube videos and FAQ’s are all projected on a large screen at the back of the stage, which also provides a backdrop for many of the dance numbers. The dance numbers themselves are far from the average public performance. While Russell, Quinn and Liebenberg are clearly talented dancers, the comedic atmosphere and tight confines of the stage mean that we see every example of poor dance and performance etiquette one can think of – colliding dancers, forgotten choreography, laughing at each other and visible costume changes in the wings. All in all the atmosphere is one of pure silliness and high energy – which is apparently a highly entertaining combination, as the audience were frequently in stitches. Callan commented on how a show evolves during a season, thanked the audience for braving opening night, and invited them back to see the show again in the more polished final week. While there will no doubt be improvements during the season (and hopefully further recovery from his knee injury) too much ‘polish’ would take something away from the spontaneity and silliness that works so well in this show. While I wonder just how far Callan can take this particular idea, it does seem that forms of physical comedy withstand repetition much more easily than the purely verbal. A Little Less Conversation 3: Even More Less Conversation is a refreshing change from run of the mill stand up, and will leave you with a huge smile on your face.