Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Heart of Another is a Dark Forest

Restless Dance Company and Rawcus Theatre

Dancehouse, Melbourne

September 24, 2008. As part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Combining playfulness with poignancy, this joint production is a tapestry of theatrical images, woven together by directors Kate Sulan and Ingrid Voorendt. Inspired by the question of how well we can ever really know each other, the duo have created a movement-based performance which incorporates improvisation into a choreographed structure.

The companies involved, Restless Dance Company from Adelaide and Rawcus Theatre from Melbourne, both employ performers with and without disabilities. Some are wonderfully fluid movers, while others have larger than life personalities which emerge through the many brief vignettes.

The pace is slow to begin with, but the momentum eventually builds with the assistance of the live music by Jethro Woodward and Zoe Barry. A simple yet resonant sequence for the women, set facing away from the audience, leads to a sombre passage as a lone performer walks toward the audience, flanked by dark and grotesquely shaped figures moving in slow motion.

The episodic fragments grow ever more personal, including an intimate moment between a blind, wheelchair-bound man and a young woman as they gently explore each other’s faces, and an eerily fascinating dance where a performer’s shadow becomes a giant of ever-changing proportions.

Using wallpaper and ramps, Emily Barrie’s design transforms the Dancehouse theatre into an accessible, multi-level space, while Richard Vabre’s excellent lighting heightens the sense of isolation within the group.

Despite moments of joy and tenderness, much of the work in this contemplative production suggests that we may never truly know what lies inside the heart of another.

(First published in The Age newspaper)

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