[2015161] The Cardinals

[2015161] The Cardinals

Stan’s Cafe @ Flinders St Baptist Church

4:00pm, Sat 14 Mar 2015

As I took my seat pew in the Flinders Street Baptist Church (I’d only attended a performance here once before), I paused to take a deep breath: this was my final Festival show for the year. The church was chockers, silver hair all over the place, and my arrival only five minutes before starting time forced my position into the wings… a bit of shuffling was required until the large puppet booth – already onstage – was not obscured by the church’s supporting pillars.

Three eponymous Cardinals use the puppet booth to present a show with an evangelical message; but, in an opening twist, the puppets have been waylaid, leading to the Cardinals having to improvise in the telling of their story. We, the audience, are privy to the performance and frantic re-working of their show… and that brings forth a lot of physical comedy.

The entire show is performed without dialogue (with the exception of the occasional squeal or yelp for comic effect). And despite the cartoonish qualities of the Cardinals’ clowning, there’s a sincere solemnity to their performance… and an air of exasperated resignation around their female Muslim stage manager.

The Cardinals attempts to work on many levels: there’s the physical creativity and meta-theatre of the Cardinals’ puppetry, and the interactions between the cast – the stage manager’s break for prayer amidst an all-hands-on-deck crucifixion scene was both funny and thoughtful. But the story they try to tell through their puppetry – an abridged version of The Bible (with a little contemporary creative license thrown in) – has its own highlights… including a sequence where the Cardinals depict modern terrorist attacks, eliciting gasps from the audience and consternation between the Cardinals and their stage manager.

This is all fun… but it’s not that much fun, and any deeper significance to the plot was completely lost on me. And, more to the point, this has all the trappings of a polished $30 Fringe show in a fancy venue, rather than a Festival show with a 50% premium on the ticket. And that is the thing that kinda upsets me about the inclusion of The Cardinals in the Festival programme; sure, it’s nice to offer companies like Stan’s Cafe international exposure, but I prefer the theatre slots in a Festival programme to be filled by the big and brazen productions that don’t really have a chance elsewhere.

[2015148] Beckett Triptych

[2015148] Beckett Triptych

State Theatre Company of South Australia @ State Theatre Workshop

11:00am, Thu 12 Mar 2015

State Theatre’s contribution to this year’s Festival is a hefty affair: not so much in duration (the three Beckett short plays that comprise the Triptych weighed in at a little over two hours total), but in production effort: each of the performances takes place on a different stage, with a different actor… and director.

Footfalls kicks off proceedings, and sees Pamela Rabe pacing up and back, wearing a path in the carpet. The rhythm of her pacing is almost meditative: nine steps, turn. Nine steps, turn. She is May; she converses with her unseen and sickly mother in the next room. There is conflict between them – unexplored regret and trauma separate them – but the conversation seems almost cyclical, destined to never conclude… and still May methodically plods along. Geordie Brookman’s contemplative direction is gorgeous, with the type of light-play that makes me melt: faces drift in and out of shadow in the most lovely fashion.

A shift of venue – somewhat unexpected and problematic for the silver-topped in the audience – takes us to Eh Joe, in which Paul Blackwell has a non-speaking role sitting at the foot of a bed whilst a disembodied female voice tells him how worthless he is. A scrim over the front of the stage acts as a screen for live video of Blackwell’s face, and the camera zooms right in to show us every twitch of pained response and every bead of guilty sweat… it’s all about the eyes, but there’s nothing as dramatic as tears to punctuate the scene. Instead, the scrim is an almost tortuous window into a confused soul. The colourless set – which remained hidden until Blackwell turned on the lights in his grim flat – only contributes to the loneliness generated; Corey McMahon’s direction was nothing less than stellar.

In contrast to the first two pieces, Krapp’s Last Tape is almost lighthearted, with a tease of an opening as Peter Carroll (Krapp) ominously drops a banana peel on the floor in his cluttered set… his subsequent glance to the audience was sublime. But then Krapp continues reviewing the reel-to-reel tapes he has laying around, eventually going on to record the titular final entry in these magnetic diaries; there is a tangible loneliness to his present, but director Nescha Jelk keeps things fairly airy… aided by Carroll’s fabulously expressive face. Krapp’s Last Tape was by far the most arresting of the Triptych for me: the humour made it more immediately accessible, but it was the idea of Krapp’s introspection of his own words from another time that tickled me the most.

The three pieces have some commonality (other than playwright): the sound, set, and costume designers, as well as others on the creative team, are shared across the performances, giving them a common muted aesthetic that prevents the Triptych from feeling too disparate. But, more importantly, I felt that each of the plays were introspective – but from differing perspectives – and there were recurring themes of ageing and isolation… ideas that I’ve been dwelling upon due to my elderly parents. But associate introspection with melancholy, throw in a bit of absurdism, and I’m a happy camper… and this production of the Beckett Triptych made me very happy indeed. Kudos, State!

[2015146] The Experiment

[2015146] The Experiment

Mauricio Carrasco @ Space Theatre

8:30pm, Wed 11 Mar 2015

Let me not mince words: I hated The Experiment. Whatever I write here is going to wind up being way more effort than I think it deserves.

Based on Mark Ravenhill’s monologue, The Experiment intends to ponder the question: can experimentation on a single child be justified if it could potentially save thousands of other lives? And the programme, written by producer/composer David Chisholm, loftily suggests that The Experiment is a technological re-imagining of musical melodrama, and name-drops Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Strauss, and Debussy before lamenting the impact of television. It even references – twice – the Grand Guignol, which sets expectations high.

But not only did this performance fail to meet expectations, it also presented something so obtuse and dense that the provocative source material is hidden from view. As the sole performer onstage, Mauricio Carrasco provides a flat, almost monotonic, monologue that completely fails to challenge, and isn’t helped by the choice of video accompaniment. And as much as I like caustic and aggressive music, Chisholm’s score is an atonal mess; Carrasco, apparently an accomplished guitarist, is given little musicality to work with, and only fragmented concepts of instruments on which to perform: the “guitars” were recognisable only by their strings, held taut in contraptions that could be found in the Tate Modern.

I remember furiously composing the tweet below, and wondered whether I should tone it down somewhat. If anything, I think I did tone it down, because time has not been kind to my memory of The Experiment. It was an over-wrought indulgence to the production team, and a complete waste of my time.

[2015133] Mixed Rep

[2015133] Mixed Rep

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet @ Festival Theatre

8:00pm, Sun 8 Mar 2015

So… Cedar Lake again. Twice in one day. I honestly can’t remember whether that was a deliberate ploy, or whether I was just trying to take advantage of any matinée I could get my hands on… but you know what?

It totally worked.

With my appetite well-and-truly whetted by the amazing Orbo Novo, I returned to the Festival Theatre in a positively excited state. There was a moment of consternation upon entry – the running sheet posted in the theatre foyer threw an additional forty minutes of interval into the evening’s schedule, so a daringly-scheduled show later in the evening was dropped – but, once my seat was taken and the lights were dropped, all was forgiven.

The first of Mixed Rep‘s three distinct pieces, Jiří Kylián’s Indigo Rose, was a fascinating half-hour of spotlit duets and solo pieces split into multiple sections, each with their own emotional weight. The lighting (and colourful, flowing costumes) produced a stunning bit of shadow-dancing on the triangular white cloth that was suspended across the stage… and I started thinking that it was my birthday a day early. I love me some shadow-play, and Indigo Rose‘s playful (and occasionally saucy) exuberance totally worked for me.

An interval gave me a chance to reflect before Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets On A Theme Of Rescue, which – despite being half the length of the previous piece – was no less significant. A series of sensual duets, subdued sodium lighting heightened the emotion emanating from the stage. Some of the duets featured such focus from the dancers that it almost felt voyeuristic watching them move together: there was an almost too much intimacy, but it resulted in some of the most moving pieces of the evening: the moments when the score dropped away, allowing us to hear the breaths and steps from the stage were just beautiful.

Finally came Hofesh Shechter’s Violet Kid… and if the Pite’s work was stewed in the intimacy of two people, this piece was loud and bold and terrifying. A caustic industrial score (absolutely my cup of tea) drove waves of movement that began as a tribal war dance before veering – via an onstage execution – into more complex group dances. The combination of the harsh noises and wildly erratic – yet tightly controlled – movements somehow made me feel a bit unsettled. A little scared. A lot excited. Despite the political overtones in the work (and score), Violet Kid felt like a barely restrained wild animal; it was absolutely compelling.

Some friends (and enemies) are well aware that I don’t give standing ovations lightly; Mixed Rep deserved the accolade on the strength of Violet Kid alone, and the other two pieces weren’t far from that astonishing quality. But it broke my heart to see the news that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was closing down less than a fortnight after this amazing piece, because I remember leaving the Festival Theatre wanting to share Cedar Lake’s balletic brilliance with everyone I’ve ever met.

[2015129] Orbo Novo

[2015129] Orbo Novo

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet @ Festival Theatre

2:00pm, Sun 8 Mar 2015

I must have said this a million times, both on this blog and in person: I love watching dance, but I understand nothing about it. Over the years, I’ve discovered that dance has the ability to move me more than any other medium; maybe because of my absolute lack of understanding of the medium, some dance pieces can just reach right into my brain and conjure emotions that I can’t quite explain. And when I heard the murmurs of delight and approval that accompanied the announcement of Cedar Lake’s Adelaide Festival programme, I immediately inked them into The Schedule… it’s fair to say that the two Cedar Lake shows featured in my Top Five Shows To Giddily Look Forward To.

When neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a stroke, she was offered an opportunity that few (if any) of her colleagues would be offered: the ability to observe the machinations of the stroke from the perspective of the victim. She observed – initially panicked, then with a sense of calm – as her physical functions were compromised, as parts of her brain were shut down… Years of therapy later, her memories of the event spawned a book and a well-publicised and much-lauded lecture; Bolte Taylor’s familiar words formed part of the audio backdrop of Orbo Novo (though, unlike many who recognised the spoken word backing, I didn’t hear it via TED, but rather Love+Radio).

With Bolte Taylor’s words underscoring the performance, and a set of large movable wooden lattices spanning the stage, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s choreography seemed to evoke the actions of the brain during (and after) a stroke. The members of Cedar Lake seemed to act as neurons, swarming as if fluid, combining to create actions, splitting to explore ideas. The lattices were rearranged on the fly to frame the stage and – later – to hold some of the dancers captive; but every inch of their height, every hole in their structure, was used by the troupe to show an organic process.

The smoothness and grace of the Cedar Lake dancers was almost beyond my belief. The manner in which they transitioned from wide sweeps, solo or duo or trio or troupe, and then focussed on smaller, almost finicky, movements was divine; the storytelling in their actions was palpable. At times overt – dancers would often face the audience, mouthing Bolte Taylor’s words in time with the backing – the performance never failed to engage… and the moments of fracture were darkly gorgeous – and emotionally impactful.

As I mentioned before, I know nothing about dance… and I certainly know nothing about the mechanisms of the medium to emote. But Orbo Novo was, without a doubt, the most cohesive, comprehensible, and intelligent dance piece I’ve encountered. And, perhaps as a result, it was also the most emotionally engaging: it conjured thoughts and feelings in me that only the best theatre had managed to lure before. I absolutely adored Orbo Novo, and I left Festival Theatre absolutely yearning for more Cedar Lake…

[2015122] Nufonia Must Fall

[2015122] Nufonia Must Fall

Kid Koala @ Dunstan Playhouse

2:00pm, Sat 7 Mar 2015

I’d first encountered Kid Koala via a Lovage collaboration (led by Dan the Automator and featuring (amongst others) Mike Patton and Jennifer Charles), but – without wanting to appear super-ignorant or disrespectful – I didn’t realise he was that big a deal… so David Sefton’s enthusiastic announcement of his involvement in Nufonia Must Fall was a bit of a surprise.

Interest piqued, I found myself at a handy weekend matinée; there was also a large contingent of children in the crowd, which looked to be equalled by their accompanying parents. Upon entry, we were handed some well drawn (and random!) pictorial bingo cards: by marking off the objects on the card as they were introduced during the performance, a prize pack (containing all manner of Nufonia Must Fall goodies) could be won.

Based on Kid Koala’s graphic novel of the same name, Nufonia Must Fall was a curious mixed-media performance: film drives a puppet narrative along, while the Afiara Quartet underscore the story from above and Kid Koala scratches and accents the audio from within a pool of electronics near the wings. The story follows a lonely robot: fired from his job after the arrival of a newer model, he finds work in a sandwich shop, and soon falls in love with a regular customer.

Their courtship was – as one might expect from a kid-friendly romance – super-innocent and sweetly realised, and a good match for the otherwise inexpressive puppets, whose blank features allowed me to fill in the blanks. But the puppetry was, somewhat surprisingly, the weakest part of the production: the puppeteers certainly worked hard, meticulously setting up complex scenes with pliable characters in modelled sets (which were then projected for the audience via moveable cameras, allowing an element of cinematography to seep into the production), but this felt more like elaborate stop-motion animation than a comprehensive puppetry performance.

Still, the emotive bittersweet tale papered over the cracks in the visual performance, and the audio production was lovely throughout. As a beautiful and family-friendly show, Nufonia Must Fall proved to be thoroughly enjoyable.

[2015120] Vampillia

[2015120] Vampillia

The Red Paintings, Fourteen Nights at Sea, Vampillia @ Freemasons Hall

8:00pm, Fri 6 Mar 2015

David Sefton had giggled when announcing Vampillia at the Festival Launch; he had me on-board with the words “Japanese” and “chaos orchestra”. And, even with a cunningly-acquired running sheet for the bands on the bill, there was still little else for me to do this evening… no other shows could be squeezed in. Vampillia had dominated the planning for the evening, and I was expecting great things.

First up were (half of) The Red Paintings, with Trash McSweeney (acoustic guitar) and Alix Kol (violin) delivering a handful of decent tunes in a short, twenty minute set (though, as a longtime Tears For Fears fan, their cover inspired by the inferior version of Mad World annoyed me somewhat). More curious, though, was their stage prep: for such a short set, they seemed to spend a lot of time organising their dancing Groot doll, jarred alien foetus, and (toy) hamster wheel onstage.

Then came the five-piece Fourteen Nights At Sea: two guitars, bass, keys, and drums produced an forty-minute set of power-instrumentals, generating a massive wall of noise that could conceivably be oppressive. However, I found it super-exhilarating, especially when I started marvelling at the bass player who only played five different notes in the first half of their set.

I was watching carefully. I counted. I loved it.

Now – before The Red Paintings had kicked off their set, I’d grabbed a standing spot on the fence, just off-centre. After Fourteen Nights At Sea finished, a bit more of a crowd started gathering around the fence – Freemasons Hall was nowhere near capacity, so the fence-line was only a comfortable five-or-so deep. And a slender young woman – a little taller than me (not difficult), long black hair, slinky black dress, black lipstick – had joined me on the fence. Despite her incredibly soft voice, we’d got to talking: she was a big fan of Festival music (Morricone, Zorn), and she’d asked me whether I was as big a fan of Vampillia as she was.

The fact that I’d not heard any of their music before left her bemused, but the conversation continued amiably.

But, with the opening guitar chords of Vampillia, she threw both arms forward in a proper Hook ‘Em Horns salute (that had me almost feeling claustrophobic) and started head-banging more violently than anyone I’ve ever seen, at times almost losing balance over the fence. She was, most certainly, a devotee.

And then, at the end of each song, she’d demurely retract her limbs and gently cheer with a quiet little “Yay!”, accompanied by a soft golf clap. When the next song started, the Jekyll-and-Hyde cycle would begin anew. She was quite amazing to watch.

But even more amazing was the frontman of Vampillia himself.

He’d arrived onstage via the crowd, wearing a ghillie suit and clambering over the fence as best he could. Once he’d arrived (and removed the suit)… wow. Super-impressive guttural vocals, and a presence that just demanded your attention.

He roamed the front of the stage like an animal, pausing only to bellow some unintelligible Japanese into his microphone, and then he’d leap into the crowd while the rest of Vampillia played on: the drummer was relentless with his violent drumming, the guitarists and keyboards provided bizarre textures. And then there’s the bass player: painted white and wearing only a loin cloth, he appeared to be almost ghost-like, and had a bizarre presence onstage.

On one of his frequent trips into the crowd, the vocalist had dragged a table from the back of the Hall almost up to the fence, and started singing and stomping on it while gathering the crowd around to dance. Towards the end of the show, he disappeared outside the Hall completely, returning with a couple of wheelie bins; as the rest of the band petered out of their final song, the bass player jumped into the crowd and leapt head-first into the bin.

So… yeah. Vampillia’s music was exactly what was promised: a noisy, chaotic orchestra, and visually compelling to-boot. Add onto that the brilliant set by Fourteen Nights At Sea, and I was supremely happy with my lot. And, as I was leaving, I noticed David Sefton in the crowd, a big Cheshire-Cat shit-eating grin on his face. I went up to him, told him what an awesome experience I’d just had – “Told you!” he laughed – and I stole a selfie:

[2015115] La Merda

[2015115] La Merda

Silvia Gallerano [performer], Cristian Ceresoli [writer] @ Space Theatre

8:30pm, Thu 5 Mar 2015

In the centre of the otherwise empty black stage is a tall stool, somewhat like a lifesaver’s vantage point at the beach. On top of it sits Silvia Gallerano, microphone in hand. She’s naked, and – initially – organises her limbs demurely, garnering as much modesty as she can given the circumstances.

When she starts reciting the first of Cristian Ceresoli’s three monologues, my attention is drawn – nay, dragged – to her mouth: stark red lipstick and bold movements accompany her speech, as her heavy accent is softened by forced language. She begins softly, but firmly, announcing that she is going to be a star… but the story takes us in a seedy direction, of charlatans and corruption. The softness in her voice ebbs away, being replaced by a curiosity, a disbelief, an anger… and the pace of her delivery – and her volume – grows.


Almost as if a dam is giving way to the weight of water it holds back, Gallerano is suddenly ranting – then shouting, then screaming – into the microphone. My blood starts racing, my ears start bleeding, and I cannot look away from the raw naked fury gesticulating in front of me. The torrent of words reaches a piercing crescendo, then…


When the lights come up again, Gallerano has re-settled. Her voice is soft again. The next story starts, builds, and then assaults us… another blackout. And then we are subjected to the attack again, only this time the acceleration seems far quicker, and we are battered for far longer. There’s an uncomfortable silence at the end of the third act, when we don’t know whether the show has finished or not… whether Gallerano will blister our ears and our sensibilities with another stream of verbal violence.

Ceresoli’s mountainous scripts – all three monologues are incredibly dense – are deliriously political: broader societal politics are laid bare, informed by the corruption in the Italian system, but there’s much more said about personal politics… and especially the patriarchy. Ceresoli’s characters are abused, but they’re not helpless… and Gallerano’s actualisation of their voices is incredible.

La Merda – The Shit – was, without a doubt, one of the most brutal full-frontal assaults I’ve ever experienced in a theatre. And I can sum up my memory of La Merda in one word: Incendiary. Gallerano’s passionate ascension felt like it was igniting my mind, and by the end of the third act I felt absolutely ablaze with disgust and revulsion and shame. It feels odd trying to associate any of my usual positive phrases to this performance… but I am so glad that I got to experience it.

[2015108] SmallWaR

[2015108] SmallWaR

SKaGeN @ Space Theatre

2:00pm, Wed 4 Mar 2015

After last year’s BigMouth, I was willing to commit to anything that Valentijn Dhaenens was involved in… and, on the surface, SmallWaR – conceived as a companion piece when touring BigMouth – looked to be cut from the same cloth.

Where his previous piece dealt with well-known, public-aware speeches, SmallWaR deals with a much smaller scale – it’s a much more personal narrative, dealing with two distinct entities: the nurse and the wounded. Dhaenens plays the nurse in real-time, and his portrayal of the wounded (who come in many forms, but focus on an amputee that the nurse is directly tending) is projected or screened onto multiple surfaces around the stage.

SmallWaR creates a tangible – and moving – sense of horror in the helplessness of the wounded, and the anti-war messages inferred from the characters borders on polemic. But it’s all so cold: the staging, though technically adept, seems unnecessarily complex, and there’s a lack of subtlety to the production that makes the message feel one-note.

That’s not taking anything away from the message: SmallWaR has something to say, and is able to distill that message for maximum impact. But the unwavering method of its delivery left me feeling numb by the end of the show; not from the horror, but by the constant attacks on its subject.

[2015099] Riverrun

[2015099] Riverrun

Olwen Fouéré @ Dunstan Playhouse

2:00pm, Mon 2 Mar 2015

It may surprise some people (and I really do mean “some”) that, despite all this art stuff I see, I’m actually pretty culturally illiterate. To wit: I don’t have any formal knowledge of anything to do with James Joyce. So it wasn’t (the source of) the content of Riverrun that drew me to this performance… rather, it was David Sefton’s delight at describing the content that convinced me that this would be worth a punt.

And Sefton’s enthusiasm is warranted, if only because of the weirdness of the synopsis: Olwen Fouéré writes, directs, and performs a monologue “in the voice of the river in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake“. Now, with no knowledge of the book, that sounds like a compellingly odd idea; having read a little after-the-fact about the “challenging” nature of Finnegans Wake, and the fact that the book apparently contains references to many rivers from around the world, it now seems completely nuts.

Fouéré is a striking presence as we enter the Playhouse, waiting in the inky dark in a black suit, her white shirt almost as much of a beacon as her white hair. And with the house seated, the lights drop; she very deliberately takes off her shoes, and launches into her Riverrun.

And I think I speak for at least half the audience when I say that I could not understand a word she said.

For at least the first few minutes of Fouéré’s delivery, her thick accent makes it almost impossible to discern words: once my ears adjust, I start being able to pull words and fragments of sentences out of the torrent being presented. Towards the end of the performance, I recall discerning an entire sentence, and feeling very pleased with myself.

But the physicality of Fouéré’s performance is undeniably beautiful. She roams the stage with an almost balletic elegance, and she can twist the mood in the room by standing minutely taller and changing her expression, puffing out her chest. It’s so well weighted, so well performed, that I want to laud Riverrun

…but it’s really, really difficult to do that when you can’t engage with the text. Which, in turn, makes me contemplate whether I’d feel differently had this been presented in a completely different language.

It’s not just me who remained disengaged: a chap behind me nodded off to sleep, and I heard the gentle thudding and nestling of his slumber. And there was obviously a contingent who couldn’t wait for the performance to be over: after Fouéré removed her jacket and walked backwards, swiping the jacket across the floor, people started applauding… only to hush when she returned to stage centre for a spotlight on her face to shrink to nothing, catching her cracking a broad smile as it did so.

So: I had no idea what Riverrun was about, but I enjoyed watching it happen. Maybe some knowledge of Joyce would have helped comprehension; immersion in Irish accents would certainly have made the text more audibly legible. But maybe that would have taken away the mystery, too, and detracted from the joy I found in the physical performance.

[2015095] Marilyn Forever

[2015095] Marilyn Forever

Aventa Ensemble @ Studio 520, ABC Collinswood Centre

6:00pm, Sun 1 Mar 2015

The only show in the Festival’s Gavin Bryars in Residence programme that I elected to attend, Marilyn Forever required me to take a bit of a trek out to the ABC Studios at Collinswood… a combination of the extra walking, a bit of opportunistic carb loading, and a weekend chock-full of wonderful emotions meant that – once again – I was a little bit dozy… initially.

But prior to the show, I’d wound up talking – as is my wont – to two gorgeous regular Festival-goers who come to Adelaide every year from Tasmania. I’d also investigated the seating arrangements at Studio 520 – there was the raked seating downstairs (that I’d used before during a Zephyr Quartet gig at the Studio), but I also discovered the upstairs section… and the view was a little nicer from up there.

Marilyn Forever is an opera revolving around the night of Marilyn Monroe‘s death, with Marilyn (soprano Anne Grimm) onstage throughout. Flashbacks show us earlier stages of Monroe’s life: from orphanages to her relationships, to battles with fame and inner demons. Curiously, baritone Richard Morris plays The Men in these recollections, and he morphs easily from sleazy agents to husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Staging is plain – a great blank-canvas look, but also (I suspect) an homage to that dress, which Grimm also sports – and a jazz band and mini orchestra bookend the stage.

As mentioned, I settled into Marilyn Forever in a very sated state… and promptly dozed off, repeatedly struggling to open my eyes to see Marilyn lamenting whilst sitting on the floor, mournfully singing about depression or disappointment… and whilst Grimm had a great voice, it completely lacked the breathiness that typified Monroe, and that left me unable to engage. The music, while gorgeously constructed and well performed, rarely rose in tempo, helping me drift off…

But somewhere in the middle of the performance, my brain had obviously recuperated enough: I switched on, and suddenly I was transfixed. The last half of the libretto was fantastic, with the musical backing swelling to a wonderful climax. Having experienced that, I was pretty angry at myself for dozing in the first half; who knows what joy may have been contained therein.

(…well, lots of people know, actually: the ones who didn’t sleep during the performance!)

[2015085] Azimut

[2015085] Azimut

Compagnie 111 @ Festival Theatre

7:30pm, Thu 26 Feb 2015

I’ll be honest, here: there’s not a lot about Azimut in this post.

Even though I’ve written a few posts where I don’t remember anything about the show, I’m particularly ashamed (in a humorously self-deprecating kind of way) about this one: Azimut was very much a flagship performance of the 2015 Festival, and I was really looking forward to it…

…But you know what I was looking forward to more? A reunion with my Sydney-based Significant Other, who was flying down for the weekend. After some frantic last-minute cleaning, I met her at the airport, we got all dressed up (seriously – she looked gorgeous, and my suit was probably my best clothing purchase ever), and then we went to the Festival Opening Night VIP event in the Festival Centre’s Banquet Room.

And I liberally partook of the bubbly on offer (I’m already a massive fan of Croser, but free Croser? Heaven). And we hobnobbed and chatted and ruined many photos and had fun and caught up with Helen and Sara and Keith and listened to speeches and drank some more and stole some nibbles…

Look, it was a bit of a blur. But then it was time to head in to see Azimut. I’d managed to score us some awesome seats, and the crowd was buzzing, and the lights dropped, and I was excited for the first Festival show of the season, and…

…I dozed through most of the performance. There. That’s the shameful bit.

Here’s what I remember: I remember a dark and almost hazy ambience. I remember eastern-tinged music. I remember people walking on the roof of the performance space. I remember – with my Significant Other’s help – a grid-like scaffolding rising from the stage floor to the roof, up and down which skittered performers in patterns, waves, meticulous movements. I remember a refinement to the presentation that oozed class. I remember wondering, in between periods of darkness probably caused by my eyes shutting, what the hell was going on… wondering whether there was a narrative or not.

But, most of all, I remember the look of wonder on my Significant Other’s face at the end of the performance.

As we exited the Theatre, I had professed my doziness to her; she’d squeezed my hand and given me a kiss, her eyes sparkling. We wandered back to the opening-night party – more free bubbly! – and schmoozed with Geoff and Sorayya and Jane, and watched the launch of Blinc from the windows of Lyrics.

And that’s my story about Azimut. Love, people, bubbles.