My Life in Boxes
Gravity Dolls @ Gluttony – The Lotus Palace
5:20pm, Tue 24 Feb 2015
Cross-artform performances are hardly new; even attempts to merge theatre and circus have been seen before. Where My Life in Boxes could have reeled me in was in the content of the narrative: one of the characters was a hoarder seeking change. I was hoping to find familiarity in that.
Performed in front of a wall of cardboard boxes, a simple relationship between the characters – a café owner, Elise, and a doctor at the nearby hospital, Teddy – develops. The contents of some of the boxes are used to trigger events in the narrative – in their relationship – and one suspects that the idea was to generate a sense of discovery.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the set, but the manner in which the performers (Tim Rutty & Tarah Carey) interact with it is almost superfluous to both the narrative and the tricks. In fact, more effort seemed to have been given to the viewer‘s interaction with the set than the actors, as audience participation includes minor prep work (that could easily have been avoided).
The acrobatic side of the performance, too, felt unnecessary, and even in stark contrast to the accompanying narrative: tricks often seemed to have energy levels mismatched with the scenes that bookended them. If they were supposed to symbolically add to the narrative, it was lost on me.
I think I can see what Gravity Dolls were aiming for with My Life in Boxes, but it didn’t really work for me. The narrative was too thin and – despite a few poignant moments – bordered on the twee. The physical side of the performance was too basic to engage, and there were a few stumbles with tricks on the night. In the end, I’m not even sure whether the whole measured up to the sum of its parts.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 24, 2015