Slowly the story begins to un-spool: A detective develops a fear of heights after a chase across city rooftops leads to a near fatal fall. It’s this weakness that will prevent him from saving the wife of a close friend from falling to her death from a bell tower. Sound familiar? Chamber Made, the creators of Phobia, openly acknowledge the influence of the films and filmmaking techniques of Alfred Hitchcock. While the film in question is Vertigo it could just as easily be any of Hitchcock’s films as many of them use similar sound techniques and storylines.
In Phobia however the plot does not unfold in a conventional way, rather the dialogue is spoken and repeated as if being recorded for some final sound-mix. Objects produce sounds that add to the film’s soundtrack and their rhythmic quality occasionally builds up until they spontaneously transform into music, whilst at other times these objects sound off in isolation. In fact everything in Phobia is considered a sound to be added to the film’s soundtrack, even the human voice.
Phobia is not a traditional theatrical performance, there are no lead actors and it doesn’t have a story told linearly. To enjoy Phobia you need to let go of all of the expectations of seeing the narrative, because you are in fact hearing it. The performance is made up of a series of aural fragments that when you let wash over you, become the story. In truth Phobia is not a performance but an experience.
Chamber Made since premiering the production in 2003, have toured it to Europe, Singapore and now across Regional Australia. It’s clear to see why this production has been such a success as it transcends language, yet it explores the ways in which people create narrative based on what they see and hear around them. As an audience member you are forced to engage with Phobia, to pay attention to it, to listen to it, and when you do, you are rewarded with a unique experience and this ultimately is the reason for Phobia’s success.
ChamberMade Opera presents
Venue: Alexander Theatre, Monash University | Wellington Road, Clayton
Dates/Times: Friday April 20 @ 8pm; Saturday April 21 @ 8pm
Tickets: $22 to $38
Bookings: 9905 1111 (9.30am–4.30pm Mon-Fri) or www.monash.edu.au/monart
This production is touring nationally. For further information - www.chambermade.org.au