A Mouthful of Pins | The Nest New contemporary performance ensemble The Nest premiered A Mouthful of Pins this week at Brisbane Powerhouse. 

Knowing the reputation of some of the ensemble members, I was very excited about the premiere of this performance.  Previous shows directed by Margi Brown-Ash such as ‘Gone to Earth’ (Vena Cava 2007), and Leah Mercer’sThe Physics Project’ (QUT 2006) were both bursting full of contemporary ideas and theatrical lyricism.  And who could forget the heart wrenchingly beautiful ‘The Great Exception: Or The Knowing of Mary Poppins’, created by The Nest, performed at Brisbane Powerhouse in 2006.  With these incredible productions in their past, I was sure that A Mouthful of Pins would be no exception. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

A Mouthful of Pins followed the narrative of a woman who suffered severe melancholia, and had retreated within her own apartment with two imaginary friends in a quest to rediscover happiness. 

For a performance that focused on the instabilities of human emotions, it did little to actually share in any emotional connection with the audience. Where I think they tried to create a performance where the characters emotional instabilities took the audience on a journey, what resulted was actually the characters being so involved within their own world that no-one else could access that world. I felt as if the ‘fourth wall’ had been rebuilt, and I could see only see sometimes through the curtains of a very small window. I struggled throughout the entire performance to connect with what was occurring.  They did not provide any access points.

Because I felt so utterly isolated from the emotional content, I completely disconnected from the performance. I tried time and time again to read the symbols, to follow the patterns that were provided, to hear the poetry, but ultimately, the characters, and therefore the performance, were closed to me.

The Nest did experiment with form and method, and for that they are to be commended. Some of the images throughout the performance were quite interesting, yet not entirely engaging. There were many layers, yet not enough openings. Or maybe I just didn’t get it.

I was disappointed with A Mouthful of Pins, but I do ask myself – is this isolation that I felt the intention of the performance? By exploring a state of depression, are they trying to install a sense of depression in their audience? I cannot answer if this was the intention. But I can answer that this was the result.

The Nest presents

Venue: Visy Theatre
Dates: 13 - 16 February
Times: Wed 6:30pm, Thur + Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm + 8pm
Tickets: $31/$26, Previews + Matinee $20/$18
Bookings: 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org

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