Something is amiss in the disparate abstract work Disappearance.
This experimental performance delves into the fears, fascinations and obsessions with disappearance in Australian Culture. The Border Project’s work has the makings of a visually strong and clever piece of theatre, but the incentive to watch its entirety soon vanishes.
Director Sam Haren explains in his program notes that the ideas for Disappearance were first conceived in 2003. This ensemble wants to venture into experimental territory as a means to delve into the Australian psyche. However, it feels more like alien territory. It is one thing to disconnect from traditional theatre. It is quite another to disconnect from the audience.
The performance has been divided into three loosely interrelated parts with only the first segment really connecting.
The first part is an adroit monologue by Alirio Zavarce who plays an ordinary man who wants to disappear from his ordinary life. Zavarce is comedic and curious with witty references to the disappearance of Harold Holt, Azaria Chamberlain and other such infamous “vanishing acts”. He displays a fascination for numbers and this sparks references to mathematics, geometry, Pythagoras and the meaning of life, which are strewn throughout the three fragments of this production.
The second segment starts with a wonderful cameo-style send-up of “The Picnic at Hanging Rock” with the headmistress (Rory Walker) and four schoolgirls riding in a buggy on their way to the rock. The rock is a giant geo-dome (a set of polygons that are organized together to form a half sphere or dome), designed by Mary Moore. The girls don safety wires, climbing up and around the large frame producing moments of appealing visual imagery. However, the re-imaging of a sequence of events from the iconic Australian film about three missing schoolgirls gradually loses momentum and this production loses the plot.
The third surreal portion is set within the geo-dome. Australian people and events - all connected with disappearance - enter and leave in seemingly random sequence. The culmination of this incredibly abstract theatre is an absurd giant stuffed talking Thylacene (Tasmanian Tiger) supposedly the ultimate antipodean disappearing act.
The Border Project is to be commended for thinking outside the square but in this case the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. The ultimate disappearing act in this case may be vacant theatre seats.
The Border Project and Adelaide Festival Centre’s inSPACE program present
Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
When: 12 – 15, 19 – 22 November, 8pm
Cost: $25 Adults, $20 Concession, $18 inSPACE members, $15 Fringe Benefits members
Bookings: BASS on 131 246 or online at www.bass.net.au