Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gardening at Night

Packed day, starting with a beautiful dance piece by James Cousins Company, There We Have Been – a 17-minute duet which sees two performers embracing, folding, wrapping and balancing, with the female character never once touching the floor. Has this ever been done before? I don’t know. In lesser hands, it could have been a gimmick, but I found it intensely moving. Was Imitating the Dog’s The Zero Hour a play or a film? It was both. Presenting three potential outcomes of the last few hours of the fall of Berlin, it was innovative, technically brilliant and mostly gripping, though I found its framing as a film being made by a Chinese director and crew unnecessary / irritating. 
Also strangely gripping was Sven Werner’s Tales of Magical Realism which comprised a number of old projector-cum-peepshow contraptions, some of which you pedal-powered yourself (I had to climb onto a fixed-to-the-floor penny farthing to run mine) in a series of dark rooms which had some unknown previous function. The narrative was a cross-between an early David Lynch or Brothers Quay film. 

Next up was a light & sound installation, Ecstatic Arc, by Robbie Thomson featuring amongst other effects a Tesla coil, its high voltage current creating mini forks of lightning and triggering Autechre-like soundscapes. And finally, a play – Vision Mechanics' Dark Matters. In a garden. At night. With wireless headphones. Great concept, but I found the narrative, and the lone actress’s performance, somewhat unfathomable and melodramatic. 

The performing arts were never so stretched.

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