Carnally, where do we go from here? could indeed be described as 'evolution in 45 minutes'. The physical theatre piece, incorporating elastic movement, poetic monologue, dialogue, and voiceover, charts the development of humankind from the ritual of birth to the eternal repetition of the human experience.
It's a three-hander in a conventional theatre setting and has a nice spacey soundtrack. You might hear some parts of it in a nighclub at 3am, and others on the Starship Enterprise. The piece hinges on the writing, directing, and performance of Branden Christine, part of Burn Theatre International. The writing is influenced by some of the great ponderers on our place in the universe, like Bret Easton Ellis, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stephen Hawking. Although the words sometimes strive too persistently for gravitas, Christine licks and spits them with precision. She provides an often entrancing physical presence, too. Leah Landau and Sam Wang offer able support as they contort and mirror their lithe, spandexed bodies through the piece. I thought, however, that the performance may have hit an extra dynamic had they shared the central role, or really experimented with their use of the space.
There are some strong images in Carnally': a big, inflated, illuminated tree root suggests that there is a constant organic presence at the basis of life, no matter what path humans take; a sheer elastic bag contains a performer. It presses against her lips as she speaks through it; the dancers fluidly travel from floor level to standing. The choreography tells us that humans are abundantly capable and adaptable.
In our journey from the primal bath, we discern symbols of basic human experience. Attraction, mutual destruction, morphing, multiplication, and adaptation. The piece's form allows it to do several things at once, spinning centrifugally from its foetal epicentre.
While this is a strength of the piece, it also makes it a little obscure. There are certainly a lot of concepts and ideas going on, and it is not always clear whether we should be picking up a sense of darkness, or hate, or distortion, or clarity. But if you let the moments wash over you, Carnally' will certainly give something to think about.
Burn International Theatre presents
Carnally, where do we go from here...
Devised by Branden Christine
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre | 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Dates: 27 Feb 2012 – 10 Mar 2012
Tickets: A $22/ C $18/ FB $18/BSA $18/Matinees All Tix $16/ $10 tix