Tag: Matthew Adey

Dance Massive Presents DEEP SEA DANCES

Eclectic exploration

By Joana Simmons

For ten days in March, Dance Massive brings us a program of all things dance, from the athletic to the obscure. Presented by Arts House, Dancehouse and Malthouse Theatre in association with Ausdance Victoria, the curated and commissioned program features local and international artists who have created works to engage and connect with. Through the international medium that is movement to music, across this program we are given a chance to rediscover our belief in the joyous and the extraordinary privilege of feeling alive. Rebecca Jensen’s Deep Sea Dances takes us to the depths of the sea, exploring the ecosystems that unfold as a dead whale sinks to the depths. Set to a live soundtrack and silence, the large cast come together to prioritize transition and transformation.

Deep Sea Dances.jpg 

Beginning with a work that recreated the rolling waves set to the breath of the ensemble, we the audience found ourselves sitting at the edges of the warehouse dive deep. The use of cannon and release of the head gave the real water lapping at your ankles’ feeling. From there, however, I was lost. I’m unsure whether, excuse the pun, I was out of my depth, but for the next 45 minutes the same movements were repeated over and over again to minimal music.  It felt like a self-indulgent and exhaustive way to prove a point. I appreciated how the performers mixed up their placement onstage, and the timing; but the movement itself was so loosely executed and frequently repeated I was unsure whether I was at a professional or student production. The costume was unflattering and sneakers were worn by all which cut off leg lines and led to some quite clunky movement. When the pace picked up, there were some good moments, however as a whole the use of repetition, lack of any extension or definitive lines or any facial expression made me, and the woman opposite me who had nodded off, feel completely excluded.

Still, credit must be given to the production in some regards as some bold choices have been made. Rebecca Jensen and Marco Cher-Gibard’s sound design is a big feature with some of the music being played live on a synth machine and keyboard by Jensen herself. It is also very exciting the way the roller door of the warehouse is bought up and the light from the street spills into the space as the dancers emerge, this time wet and clad in some slick-like fabric. They walked with pace and direction from one side to the other; which was engaging at first, but again went on for an exaggerated amount of time. Matthew Adey’s production design was simple and effective. The yellow tarquet made plenty of squeaks and music to the dancers’ sneakers, and the use of the industrial fan at the end was memorable….maybe because it was the end.

We live in a world where there is an oversaturation of media, art, film, video and theatre. Apparently we are time-poor and “connected” but also disconnected. I found this performance difficult to connect with at all based on how there was no eye contact with the audience or facial expression, and while I could understand the movement, I couldn’t understand the way it was going on for so long. If this was an experimental first performance for students, then those things are excusable. If this is trying to prove a point by challenging us to understand something deeper than what is being delivered, then great; I’m sure there are people who are out there who love having the splash of cold water on the face that is confronting theatre. However, considering the tickets are above $30, I would at least like to be able to trust that my time and money would be well-spent with attending a performance that left me feeling something other than confused and frustrated. Nevertheless, movers and shakers have to move and shake around all sorts of mediums to spark change. This is a show that has plenty of moving and shaking and, judging from the fact the performance I saw was sold out, there is a market of people who are going to appreciate it.

Deep Sea Dances was performed as part of Dance Massive in March 2017.

Image by Eliza Dyball

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Red Stitch Presents SUNSHINE

Dawning potential as four lives interweave

By Caitlin McGrane

There’s something about Red Stitch that always keeps me coming back. It might be the way their plays seem to be selected deliberately and with precision, or the very, very fine performances that they nearly always seem to produce. Sunshine by Tom Holloway opens with four performers lying on the ground on stage where they seem to come to life one-by-one and speak their lines lyrically and with intense musicality.

Sunshine.jpg

Each player moves in their own world; even when it becomes apparent later that they’re interacting with one another, it’s like they’re in layered alternate universes. I was reminded of the ‘real’ world compared to the ‘Upside Down’ in Stranger Things in the way the characters moved around each other, near and almost touching but never quite. Direction from Kirsten von Bibra was superb and sublime – the delicate and precarious way the actors spoke and moved around each other was masterful. The four-hander cast, Ella Caldwell, Philip Hayden, Caroline Lee and George Lingard, are all tremendous, very much each making the most of their character’s individual trajectory.

For me, however, the writing was disappointing. The dialogue was highly stylised, and for a time it was really interesting and beautiful, but after about half an hour my head began to ache and I found I was having to do a lot of work to remember what was happening with each character. As my head whipped back and forth trying to keep up, I started to lose interest in the onstage goings on.

The dialogue would have been easy enough to let go if the individual stories amounted to more than the sum of their parts, but for my money the playwright missed an opportunity to look at a really interesting relationship between Man 2 (Philip Hayden) and Woman 2 (Caroline Lee). Hayden and Lee had far and away the most nuanced and interesting characters, and their limited interaction showed the kind of writing of which Holloway is capable.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention that embedded within the writing is the character of a homeless man who ostensibly lives in the same universe in which the play takes place. He has no lines, no face and is referred to only as a plot device (to do what exactly, I’m not sure). Homelessness is an increasing problem in Melbourne, and it was extremely disappointing to see yet another misrepresentation of homelessness as male, drug-affected and living in a park. People who are homeless deserve better and fairer representation, and it smacks of lazy writing to use people who are already socially invisible in this manner.

All that said, there was a lot to enjoy. The set and lighting were expertly crafted by Matthew Adey – the staging in particular showed real ingenuity. Elizabeth Drake made some interesting choices for the play’s composition and sound design; her dreamy ethereal sounds were reminiscent of Blade Runner. Costumes (Matilda Woodroofe) were simple, fitting the minimalist theme of the play, and didn’t distract from the drama. Overall Sunshine shows great potential, not least from Holloway who I hope will continue to grow and experiment as a writer.

Sunshine is now showing at Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre until 5 November 2016. Tickets and more information: http://redstitch.net/gallery/sunshine/

REVIEW: Chunky Move Presents MISS UNIVERSAL

Excellent components strive to be whole

By Caitlin McGrane

I walked out of Miss Universal and needed quite a while to process what I had seen. When I walked into the performance space I was instructed to ‘interpret it’ in any way I wanted. Speaking to other audience members they were similarly told that there was no wrong place to stand but if you happened to be in the wrong place you would be moved along by the performance: all very mysterious and contemporary. The performance was innovative, eclectic and unlike anything I had seen in a dance performance: it was well conceptualised, directed and choreographed by Atlanta Eke, who also performed alongside Annabelle Balharry, Chloe Chignall and Angela Goh.

Miss Universal.jpg

The performances were excellent and I found myself variously moved, bemused and amused throughout. The trouble was for me that the work did not hang together as a coherent whole; this may not have been the intention in the first place but what it meant for me was that while there was nothing boring about the performance itself, I found myself eventually bored. I think the performance works best if you think about it as a series of visual vignettes rather than holding a narrative or theme through the performance. Chunky Move’s performance space was utilised well, and the performers demonstrated exceptional agility and versatility as they manipulated levels and the traditional space between performer and audience.

The lighting, designed by Matthew Adey from House of Vnholy, lit the space in a sickly hue that exposed imperfections on everyone’s skin, lending an ‘other worldly’ quality to the show. This ethereal quality was enhanced by the excellent and jarring score from composer Daniel Jenatsch.

Overall I really wish Miss Universal had resonated more with me, but other opinions are available and I would encourage those who appreciate contemporary dance to experience it for themselves.

Miss Universal is now showing at Chunky Move until 12 December 2015. More information and tickets from: http://chunkymove.com.au/our-works/current-repertoire/miss-universal/

REVIEW: House of Vnholy Presents HOMME

Gentle performance art exposed and exposing

By Myron My

Created by the House of Vnholy and performed as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe FestivalHomme is a performative piece that explores male identity and contemporary masculinity in Australia. Through a series of vignettes and in complete silence, the differences between what it means to be a male and be a female are subtly explored.

Homme

It is standing room only during the performance, with Homme enveloping virtually the whole space.  The white flooring is bare except for a number of select items, including a washing machine, a bundle of black balloons, a megaphone and a plinth. The two performers – Matthew Adey and Rebecca Jensen – are dressed in black and the only time they speak is when they ask audience members for assistance with the props.

An audio menagerie of animal sounds play out from the speakers as Adey undresses and rests atop the washing machine in tableau. In conjunction with these sounds, Adey very much resembles a reposing lion, which evokes the idea of masculinity and the animal kingdom and being the king of the “jungle”.

At one point during the performance, Adey resumes his standing position, still unclothed, and opens himself to be the object of not only Jensen’s gaze, but also ours. Later, Adey ‘battles’ with a plinth, as he hugs, clings to and succumbs to the over-powering weight of it. Like a Greek sculpture battling to return to his rightful position on a pedestal, so to is masculinity struggling to demand and retain its position of power.

The 30-minute performance moves quite slowly and at times, there is no movement happening at all. However, the striking images and vignettes give the audience the opportunity to venture inside themselves and think about the issues HOMME is raising as the performance is inviting these thoughts without letting us miss out on what comes next. HOMME asks us to question what being a “man” in contemporary society entails while hinting that the masculine and the feminine are not so different after all and perhaps there is no necessity for division and differentiation.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote, 3070.

Season: Until 3 October | Sat 3.30pm and 8.30pm

Tickets: $22 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

REVIEW: Elbow Room Presents THE MOTION OF LIGHT IN WATER

Two strange tales interweave

By Myron My

Despite not being a massive fan of science-fiction, I really enjoyed The Motion of Light in Water. It was engaging with a well-written script, great work from a technical point of view, and the acting was of a high standard.

Jacinta Yelland as Rydra in The Motion of Light in Water_ Photo Credit LachlanWoods

Inspired by the life and works of writer Samuel R. Delaney and poet Marilyn Hacker, The Motion of Light in Water takes place in two parallel worlds. The first is set in 1964, where we meet ‘Chip’ Delaney (Ray Chong Nee), an African American, who is in an interracial and open marriage with Marilyn (Laura Maitland), a Jew.

It’s in 2116 when I became a little unsure of the second story, revolving around space captain Rydra Wong (Jacinta Yelland). Rydra is on a mission to crack a linguistic code that will prevent an alien invasion on humanity. Both stories look at complex issues of sexuality, identity and moral responsibility but in very different ways and if you’re not familiar with Delaney’s work, the narrative can get quite muddled in the space plot.

The whole cast do a superb job bringing the characters to life but Chong Nee in the dual role of ‘Chip’ and Brass is extremely charismatic to watch. His switch from one to other is seamless and he does a great job in portraying both. Yelland as headstrong Rydra is also a strong presence on stage and appears to love playing the role. I was also impressed by Paul Blenheim in his numerous roles, but particularly enjoying seeing him as The Baronees which provoked quite a few laughs from the audience during her short appearance.

The costumes designed by Zoe Rouse were satisfyingly authentic for the era of the 60s, and the metallic shimmering outfits in the future seemed very fitting and worked well with the set design by Matthew Adey of House of Vnholy.

Elbow Room has taken on an immense challenge with creating The Motion of Light in Water. Produced by anyone else, this queer sci-fi love story could have been a disaster, but with Marcel Dorney’s taut script and direction, this company have created a unique and thought-provoking piece.

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda.
Season: Until 27 July | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sun 5:00pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au