Circus and then some

Sediment (Company 2)

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

November 4 – 8

Artistic and real-life partners David Carberry and Chelsea McGuffin are back at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, joining forces with their “Scotch and Soda” collaborator, renowned percussionist and composer Ben Walsh, to present the world premiere of a new production to carry your imagination away. “Sentiment” is a layered work that blends circus, dance and live music into a beguiling artistic mix that will linger with you long after show’s end.

bottes

The power of circus is that it can be anything based on movement, strength and discipline. And “Sentiment” is certainly an example of this in its bottle walking balances, lifts and aerial work. Even though there is a touch of vaudeville when McGuffin saws herself in half, the world into which the audience is invited is framed with a dark aesthetic, fitting given that the production takes inspiration from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s brooding 1864 novella, “Notes From Underground”, a work of realist fiction which ponders the pleasure of despair, as perhaps only a Russian writer can.

shadow

The set creates has some breathtaking moments, such as when McGuffin’s giant dancing silhouette is shadowed across the stage. And while there is a busyness to the staging, it is still somewhat intimate in its examination of human nature, with a front of stage, retro television set screening essential questions and ponderings such as ‘how honest are you?’ Lighting also adds to the mood of each of its many scenes.

Although the production features a small performance space and only three performers throughout, it is a busy stage with all sections being used, albeit not simultaneously. However, the versatility of the dancers makes you long to see them in a more open space, as the confines of the front of stage area used for the early pair work scenes inhibit complete viewing (and thus I imagine appreciation) from those audience member seated high in the stalls.

A highlight, is Walsh’s music making, from obscure instruments like a theremin and sound sources such as a typewriter’s key tapping and makeshift glass harp. Indeed, the soundscape as a whole is entirely impressive in its inventiveness, from tv static to sand on stage, the most obscure of sounds becomes a feature in itself, even down to the plainness of paper scrunching and pencil scratching.

“Sediment” is a mesmeric meditation, however, about what is up for conjecture, given its lack of dialogue or discernable dramatic structure. But maybe this is ok. Maybe the show is like the nature Dostoyevsky describes when he writes “Nature doesn’t ask your permission. … You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”  For what is most powerful about productions such as “Sediment” is the realisation that words are not always necessary for much to be expressed.

Photos c/o – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Company-2

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