Trans-Mute | Union House TheatrePhotos - Shayen Vikk Wong

70 minutes. Butoh. Cabaret. And absolutely nothing to do with snails.

Or maybe it was everything to do with snails.

Trans-Mute is the latest devised performance led by renowned Butoh Dancer Yumi Umiamare in a collaborative production with the students of the University of Melbourne. Effectively an ethereal reflection Trans-Mute is both powerful and surreal. The production intertwines music and memory, physicality and epic narrative to create a strange (often anarchic) yet deeply stilling performance.

Sounds oxymoronic? It is.

Soundscapes intersect with movement, knees have complete conversations to everyone except their owners, empty faces, potent songs and intertextuality weaves through organized chaos. If that wasn’t abstract enough actors quickly transformed (or as in this case, aptly mutated) into pink bunnies (who looked remarkably akin to the energizer bunny), participated in re-incarnated music videos, illustrated flashbacks to images of war decadence and finally, shared a rather unfortunate obsession with plastic bags that added variety and layers to a very solid performance.

The heightened physicality and the obvious commitment of the performers was evident and in some cases extraordinarily well developed. In particular the execution of hands and feet was particularly exquisite as in the case of Eric Woodward who utilized the techniques of Butoh superbly. A solid ensemble with other notable performers that included Alice Davies, Andrew Wong, Jen Mackie and Michael Fee.

Although the performance was set up for cabaret and the ambience was complete with candlelight, liquid refreshment and dainty delicacies more engagement with the audience would have added to the overall enjambment of Butoh and Caberet but this I feel may develop as the performances continue over its two week season.

Definitely worth 70 minutes of your time.

Union House Theatre presents

Director/Devisor Yumi Umiumare

Venue: Guild Theatre, first floor, Union House, Melbourne University
Dates/Times: 20-22, 26-29 May at 7:30pm
Matinee: Fri 28 May 2pm
Tickets: Full $20/Conc $15/Student Union Members $10

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