Upon entering the space, the audience is asked to choose a possible outcome for the world, which is then performed as the end of the piece. It’s a metaphor for us, as contributors to the human race, having the power to take control of our actions and progress the world in whichever direction we choose.
It’s a strong premise, an important subject, a fascinating theme for a contemporary dance piece and something we should all care strongly about, at least enough to come away buzzing with thoughts, arguing with the people we saw the show with or discussing ‘how the world got to this point, why life has become so complicated and what the future will hold’ deep into the night. But we don’t.
The program states: ‘Simple Life is a physical theatre performance exploring what a complex world we have become’, which is accurate. That is exactly what the piece does, explore the question, and not in a way that tells us anything more than we already know, which is why there’s a bit of a ‘so what?’ factor at the end. We know the world is complex, we know the world could go a number of ways, we know war is ever-present, so what? Yes, let’s explore it and think about, but I wanted the piece to excite me, inspire me and tell me something that would surprise, shock me or provoke me into action or conversation. It didn’t happen. The premise is interesting, but the exploration was forgettable.
In a performance sense, the movement was controlled and measured, performed by a young, but clearly experienced, talented cast: Gina Damiano, Heath Barrett, Ash Smith, Bridget Nicklason King and Mikhaela Ebony. The choreography, by Gina and Heath, was strong, varied, made good use of the space and expressed the concept reasonably clearly though, if I was being completely honest, there were moments when I wondered what was going on.
The performance was short, sharp and interesting to a point, but I did think it was directed towards the head, more than the heart. It felt like the piece was created to provoke thought, rather than make the audience feel anything. I think theatre is best when it does both. I wanted to care about the story and/or characters, but for me the ensemble represented emotions and ideas in a general sense, rather than being specific, which distanced the audience from becoming too involved.
Jordon Clyne’s incorporation of the film footage was a nice addition to the piece and assisted the ‘exploration’ of the themes, as did the lighting design, sound design and audience participation, including the initial questionnaire and the handing out of biscuits.
As a young company, THINK C.O.N.T.E.M.P has huge potential. Mikhaela, as the producer of the show, is clever in selecting talented, experienced young artists to work with. I look forward to their next show and following the company’s development.
Think C.O.N.T.E.M.P. presents
Venue: Palookaville | 416 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Dates: 4 - 13 Oct 2007
Times: Wednesday - Saturday @ 7pm, Sunday 7th @ 5pm Excluding Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th
Tickets: Conc $13.00, Full $15.00, Group $11.00
Bookings: Festival Tix: 03 8412 8777 or www.melbournefringe.com.au