Parallelo @ Scott Theatre
4:00pm, Sat 4 Mar 2006
At first, I was startled by the number of people who had gathered for this premiere of Lontano Blu; reading the program, I noticed that this Argentinian/Australian co-production had a big Italian connection. Ah. That’d explain the large numbers of Italians waiting for the performance to begin, then.
It begins with a wonderful bass piece of music, while the background screen cycles through many shades of blue. The bass piece ends, there’s an electronica construction (but was it necessary to perform this live?), and then the performance proper begins.
At first, I thought I’d read the Festival Guide incorrectly – it appeared to be a dance piece. A pretty shabby dance piece, at that. But then the story of a woman and her grandfather appears from nowhere, and the play lurches along as they delve into his lifetime of migration.
All the while, two dancers – the grandfather & his wife at a much earlier age – roam the stage; the bass and electronica performers interject at appropriate times; and various images pertaining to the grandfather’s lifetime are projected onto the screen… it’s very much a mixed media production.
But therein lies its faults – most of the time, there’s too much happening, and none of it (with the exception of the music) is much good. The audio levels were universally poor – music drowning out actors, samples overruling music. The acting performances were stilted; on-stage italian-to-english translations, being laggy, caused much of the audience to lose interest, lose connection with the piece. The dancing was restricted in movement, thoroughly uninteresting, and the movement distracted from the piffly story taking place.
And so you don’t feel like you’ve missed out, here’s the performances’ best line: “Smitten like salami”. Says it all, really.
Maybe Lontano Blu has something to offer; some patrons around me waxed lyrical about it “speaking truly of the migrant”. However, I’m a first-generation migrants son, and this performance completely failed to engage me on any level. A real disappointment.