Dark, edgy surrealism that is still evolving
By Myron My
Two people agree to join a lonely woman in her band and live in her house full of various strange objects that she stores in jars, including childhood scabs. Together they form an electronica-dance-metal-rock outfit and perform songs about childhood, loneliness and chickens with infected eyes. Welcome to RRAMP, a show devised by Christine Johnston, Lisa O’Neill and Peter Nelson.
The particular contrast of Johnston and O’Neill’s characters is strong and effective. With her piercing eyes, stern expressions and graceful movements, The Collector (Johnston) towers over the scattered, submissive and comedic Archivist.
There is a certain Tim Burton-esque element to The Collector with her big long eyelashes and jet-black hair with white strands along her pale face, which makes the audience that extra bit nervous to be in her presence.In fact, the moment when Johnston first breaks the fourth wall and talks to us is quite intimidating but exposes the performance control she possesses. Having walked by the audience, quietly judging our appearances, we even broke into awkward laughter upon hearing of her approval.
The musical score is one of the highlights of RRAMP but was let down by some clumsy song lyrics and a few songs that that were a bit too lightly humorous and out-of-place in the dark, macabre environment that had just been established. This emotional shift seesaw-ed throughout the show and prevented me from investing in these characters who didn’t seem to develop further and therefore began to lose my interest.
Lighting designer David Walters must be commended for his brilliant and precise design. The synchronicity between the music, the lights, the performers and the animations playing along the back of the stage was quite impressive.
It is evident a lot of work and thought has gone into creating a complex piece that incorporates so many aspects of performance theatre. However, narrowing down the gaps between music, acting, dance, comedy, and the dark and macabre aspects would give all three performers the opportunity to create stronger characters that the audience can care about and connect with.
Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall.
Season: Until 8 September| Wed to Sat 7:30pm, Sat 3:00pm matinee
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: 03 9322 3713 or artshouse.com.au