Collapse | Red CabbagePhotos - Matthew Scott

What will happen at the end of the world? Will society collapse? Will we revert to some previous more brutal state? What will become of beauty and memory? These are the questions that the Red Cabbage Collective, seek to ask in their latest production of Collapse.

The Red Cabbage Collective (Louise Morris, Tania Smith, Kirsten Prins and Anna Hamilton) are a group of performance makers who have been creating site-specific work for some years now. In this show they are supported by a large cast of performers (Jason Lehane, Claire Reynolds, Maria Sirpis, Jason Cavanagh, Kate Boston Smith, Alice Claringbold, Ross Farrell, Krista Green, Portia Chiminello and Carlo Marasea) who inhabit and create the world of Collapse.

The performance begins at Sciencework’s Spotswood Jetty, where you board a ferry and travel across the bay to a remote location, where society has “collapsed”. The performance then becomes a walking tour around this new location (which I won’t reveal here, as it will spoil the surprise), encountering and experiencing the world that Red Cabbage has created. And at the end of you will be returned to where you started by bus, a kind afterthought provided by the performers.

Collapse is a performance filled with powerful images and a strong set, sound and multimedia design. The performance is made of fragments of dialogue, and long periods of ambient sound, that can sometimes be mistaken for silence, but this is more than compensated by the visuals that the group create. Although in moments where the performers do speak, the sound design seems to drown out the performer’s voices, and it is hard to say whether or not this is intentional.

However if you are looking for a strong narrative or story-based performance, Collapse will disappoint, as the work doesn’t have a clear narrative, and relies heavily on its images to evoke an emotional response. In a way this is a shame as the strong theatrical images that Red Cabbage creates would be even more powerful if the dialogue held a deeper meaning. Although it is clear that this has been a conscious decision by the collective.

As to the thematic content, Collapse did not especially evoke a post-apocalyptic setting. Instead it seemed to conjure up an event from our distant past: the Great Depression. In costume, action and dialogue, Collapse evokes a world that is simpler, and in ways has regressed. The metaphor of the performance became not about what life was like at the end of the world, but about the nature of survival in a world that has had to revert to earlier state. The performance works strongly with images that seem to suggest dreams and memories, again conjuring up the past, rather than the future. No doubt each viewer will draw their own conclusions and it is this element that remains a strong point of this truly ambitious work.

It will be interesting to see what Red Cabbage do next.

Red Cabbage presents

Venue: Meet at Scienceworks Jetty
Dates/Times: Wed-Sun 19 - 30 November, 2008, 7.30pm with a 7.45pm boat departure. No latecomers.
$30 full / $24 concession, all tickets include boat and bus journey.
$50 gold tickets include a complimentary drink after the show and supports independent performance.
Bookings: strictly limited – 03 9932 1000 or

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