Involuntary presented by One Point 618 and Adelaide Festival Centre is a curiously bland patchwork of ideas that shoots itself in the foot by not living up to some remarkably arresting promotional material. The poster image heralding this dance theatre piece presents a dynamic tableau with two dancers in intriguingly complex positions within a dangerously perilous setting, but this is one advert where what you see is definitely not what you get. I am aware of the argument that a great promotional image will sell tickets, and I think it is a very fine line one draws when the product packaging suggests something that far outreaches the actual product as is the case here.
Lazaroff's Directors Notes explain that the stimulus for the work came from unconscious random movement she observed in her baby and her mother-in-law, along with developments in technology and its influence on society, plus information overload; these things led the group to come up with an ironic satire about how individuals in society grow further apart by being more connected through technology. It could be a situation where there are too many cooks in the kitchen, what with three theatre consultants, four creators and one director/choreographer.
Given the images of the dancers on the promotional material show one dancer with an old-school electric extension cord wrapped around his neck while he is in mid air, arms and legs akimbo, and another dancer clad only in safety tape also flying through the air I was anticipating some wildly energetic dance and these particular images never arrived – I must admit to feeling a little let down.
An announcement at the beginning of the program where one usually is asked to switch of mobile phones became the most relevant and satirical element of the entire piece when it pitched a whole gamut of conditions and possibilities regarding the content of the performance and proclivities of the producers - it was seriously amusing and poked directly into the eye of technology when it requested the audience agree with the nonsensical terms "after the tone" before the production could proceed, and then went into technological melt-down. Unfortunately as far as content goes, what followed never really brought anything new to the table.
The performers presented good work but the content was a rehash of material that has been rumbling around for decades; and there was never much more than a black and white demonization of superficial advances in technology rather than a real probing of anything cutting edge.
At the moment it seems to be a popular choice to point to the internet as the big bad monster ripping society and human relationships apart which is a fairly passé position to take at this juncture twenty years into the reality of having the internet at hand. Mobile phones and texting produced some comical moments in one scene where people were communicating by speaking the nonsensical content of their texts out loud like teenagers, but the fun didn't really last.
Ultimately I found Involuntary quite a disappointment. I see how the production could work for school audiences, providing young people with some food for thought, particularly around issues of work safety and perhaps that is the intention of One Point 618 to move into this area and make it their primary focus. The technical elements used to tell their stories were well presented and the dance was well executed, I wouldn't want to give the impression that these elements were lacking in any way, in fact it was a saving grace having a small ensemble on stage; it's the overall artistic vision that was wanting, and I have already cast my aspersions on that score.
One Point 618 and Adelaide Festival Centre present
Director and Choreographer Katrina Lazaroff
Venue: Space Theatre
Dates: 1 – 5 May, 2012
Bookings: BASS 131 246
More info: Adelaide Festival Centre