Maybe you could crack my sternum
Emma and Emma @ Tandanya – Firefly
6:30pm, Thu 6 Mar 2014
I’m smitten the instant I walk in the door: two beautiful women dressed in white, in front of a white geometric backdrop, quietly chatting to themselves. I wodge myself between Jane and an elderly gentleman (who quietly dozed through most of the performance) in an optimal seat and prepared to be wowed.
The only problem is that the wows didn’t come.
The beginning of the performance smoothly emerged from the prelude: the two Emmas (Hall and Smith) introduce each other to the audience, prying apart the ways in which they aren’t alike – in fact, they’re quite different, in age as in personality, and I’m left wondering how they came to be working together. Intriguing!
But from there, they bounce from one seemingly unconnected non sequitur to another. The “conversations” between the Emmas were little more then jagged fragments of text, any of which alone could conjure an intriguing response; but when those fragments are rapid-fired at the audience, there’s little opportunity to take stock. It’s overwhelming, but not necessarily in the nonsensically blissful way that one can feel swamped in (say) a Lynch movie.
And I think my lack of engagement with these phrases and proposals was at least somewhat related to my distance from the people onstage. Despite their quirky introductions – and the fact that the Older Emma (Hall?) has ribs like mine – there was no real connection between them and me. No empathy. No reason to chase the meaning of the text.
In the end, their backdrop – a lattice-work of pins and string creating geometric shapes created by Taryn Dudley – actually was of significantly more interest to my brain than trying to figure out where their dialogue was going. And there’s a little bit of shame associated with saying that… but sometimes I’m asked to put in more than I can give. A stream of oddities is all very well and good, but there has to be a reason to care.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 6, 2014