Seated in the State Theatre on Wednesday night there was a palpable excitement in the air. The stage was packed with a colourful but deliberately dilapidated decor, a 44 gallon drum and assorted scaffolding existing along side a regal chandelier and red velvet curtains. The audience had been promised a high energy show and the pulsating music and red strobe lit haze that shrouded the stage looked like it would deliver as such.
What followed was Mayumana, a mix of dance, drumming and physical theatre that displayed the diverse skills of the cast of ten performers. From acrobatics to belly dance, Mayumana explores the joy of movement and music.
Mayumana is a highly technical exercise in rhythm, sound and movement that displayed the precise physical skills of the performers. Unfortunately, in terms of content, it fell short of its mark. This was mainly due to the tired and outdated nature of the material.
The piece started off promisingly enough with an interesting exploration of small nuanced movement and idiosyncratic gesture. The entire cast was seated at a table and proceeded to play out a phrase of staccato movement using only their shoulders, neck and head. This developed into a rhythmic drumming piece and as we would soon learn, so did nearly every subsequent section of the work.
Comparisons to the physical theatre phenomenon Stomp must be acknowledged as the performers created percussion from found objects such as saucepan lids, wheelie bins and rubber tubes. However, Mayumana is not ‘stomping’ new ground (if you’ll pardon the pun) nor are they offering any thing fresh to what is now a almost a theatrical genre in and of itself.
The performers posture, frolic and feign ecstasy, engaging in choreography that wouldn’t be out of place in a suburban eisteddfod. They bicker and squabble over props like children and engage in hammy half-hearted clowning. Although the show is billed as all ages, one would have expected something a little more sophisticated from a company that has been touring internationally for years.
The middle section of the show descended into sequences resembling a trance party nightmare. An over use of black light and fluro painted props was enough to induce flash backs for anyone who has dabbled even briefly in psychodelic pharmaceuticals. The physical material became repetitive and the ensemble pieces all followed the same structure of building rhythm upon rhythm towards a climactic conclusion.
However, Mayumana displayed tight technical execution and high production values. The performers are all gifted musicians, executing complex physical percussion and working as a comprehensive ensemble.
It’s not the absence of a narrative that lets the work down, neither is it the performers themselves. Mayumana is merely an old dog that needs to be taught some new tricks.
the Arts Centre presents
Created and Directed by Eylon Nuphar & Boaz Berman
Venue: the Arts Centre, State Theatre (Five performances only!)
Dates/Times: Wednesday 22 July to Saturday 25 July 2009, 8pm, 2pm Sat matinee
Tickets: $79 - $49.00 | Family of 4 (2 Children under 16 $149.00
Duration: 80 minutes (plus 10 minute post-show jam session in State Theatre Lobby)
Bookings: theartscentre.com.au *, 1300 136 166*, the Arts Centre Box Office or Ticketmaster outlets.
*transaction fee applies