Posts Tagged ‘alexander baden bryce





Phluxus 2 Dance Collective

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

June 14 – 21 2014


Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway 


After the apocalypse…


The de-generator audience is ushered into the cavernous black gloom of the dimly lit theatre. There are no seats (and no stage) – we are in amongst the set and free to move around it. Twisted strips of shredded and silvered plastic hang from the roof in tent-like shapes, fastened to the floor with crisscrossed silver tape – the effect is of twisted steel and broken glass. Dull muddy-silver meandering strips like dirty water wind across the floor.


After we are plunged into complete darkness, and experience waves of thunderous sound, a small light shows and a man (Alexander Baden Bryce) appears. He lunges, twists, and drags himself along the floor, and stretches up imploringly, struggling to breathe.


Later, a woman (Amelia Stokes) enters, hobbling and bent over with pain, coughing, twitching and scratching. She twists and writhes, and throws herself into the air. She visits various piles of hoarded and salvaged objects: dingy-looking bottles of water, empty bottles, gas masks, bits of jewellery, torches, bits of fabric. The water is particularly precious, and she obsessively rearranges the bottles.


Both the man and the woman seem to have survived some horrific disaster, and are desperately struggling to survive. Their costumes are various wrappings and rags in protective layers – grey for the man and terracotta for the woman. Their eyes are surrounded in dark shadows, giving them a haunted look.




When the woman and the man see each other, they circle like prey and predator. They wrestle and grapple, like feral creatures. The man dominates in this contest, and treats the girl brutally, even when you think they are on the point of being kind to each other.


When the man collapses though, the woman revives him, after some hesitation. She sponges his body with a rag and pathetically tiny amounts of water – his feet first then hands and body and lastly the face. (If you had only one bit of cloth, wouldn’t you start with the face first, not the feet, which are probably dirtiest? However, it had to be the face that was last, because that’s when the man revived.)


Eventually, the pair reach a more harmonious state, and in two more lyrical and hopeful segments they dance as if in slow motion. The sound, which for the most part has been thudding, crashing and exploding like the end of the world, and vibrating from the floor up through our feet, changes to more peaceful music (all composed by Andrew Mills). At this point, are the two people exhausted, dying creatures, or are they heading into a new beginning?




The performance ends as they stand still, and the soundscape changes to news reports about apocalyptic events – nuclear war, earthquake, climate change, fire, tsunami etc. For me this felt jarring and too obvious. I think we all got the message without this very literal information about different apocalyptic events. However, it did unmistakably leave us with the question ‘Will we ourselves survive?’


The audience is very involved in this show. We cluster around the dancers, and the dancers in turn herd us to spaces they don’t want to occupy, as we keep out of their way. We are part of the performance – choreographed as the negative of what the dancers are doing. Are we playing the roles of bewildered sheep-like victims of the apocalypse? Or maybe we are ghosts – I thought I saw one, but it was probably an audience member in the gloom.


Choreographer Nerida Matthaei (Phluxus Artistic Director), with dancers Stokes and Bryce, has achieved an impressive feat in devising and carrying off a piece of such weight and destructive energy with only two performers (plus audience). The dancers, performing demanding and intense movement under very close scrutiny, kept us engaged and involved, and dealt impressively with the mass of the audience moving around them.


There were some drawbacks. Sometimes it was hard to see what was going on because people were crowding in front of each other. You need to stay alert and follow the action. The performance lasts an hour, which was about my limit for standing after a day at work. The slower, more lyrical sections at the end felt a little long.


Post-apocalyptic stories are, paradoxically, an enduring genre that goes back at least to the biblical Noah and the flood, and probably earlier. de-generator joins current book/film examples of the genre, such as The Hunger Games, The Road, and the coming film Z for Zachariah.


Post-apocalyptic style has also been with us a while, and is popular at the moment. As an example of the style, the de-generator design (set and costumes by Lisa Fa’alafi, and lighting by Keith Clark) also reminds us of the dark and dire inspiration behind it.





Phluxus2 Dance Collective has been supported by the Judith Wright Centre’s Fresh Ground program, made possible by Arts Queensland.

de-generator has been support by Creative Sparks,a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.





Infinite Space & Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013



A rather late launch in March, yes, on the Thursday leading into the Easter weekend, a Thursday known as Maundy Thursday, a fact I know due to my Lutheran schooling. OUR TWENTY-YEAR SCHOOL REUNION IS COMING UP! WTF? And did I miss the ten-year get together then? I don’t remember putting in an appearance. I only see school friends on Facebook. Can I tell them I invented Post-Its? Oh. No. It’s been done.




So at my Lutheran school, I sang on Maundy Thursday in Chapel, “They crucified my Lord and he never said a mumblin’ word…” That’s right. Every year I have that top soprano line in my head and only one of seven or something verses… “Not a word, not a word, not a word.” Funny the things you remember.



This was indeed a late-in-the-year launch, for a season of Sunshine Coast entertainment that has well and truly begun, across the three Council run venues, Lake Kawana Community Centre, The J in Noosa, and Nambour Civic Centre, the venue for the launch. Hmmm.


The Nambour Civic Centre is a little like Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane. The last time I was there, only recently actually, to see SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, the best thing about the place was Stephen Mahey (needless to say, I’m excited to see him next as Kenickie!). Nambour desperately needs some love too. While the foyer is fairly open and inviting, with easy box office and bar access, it’s a shocking performance space, especially for dancers, and more importantly, for audiences.


I was sure I’d heard a rumour last year that a second lot of tiered seating was to come. Well, it hasn’t come yet! Tip for the punters: Don’t book floor seats at Nambour. Ask to be seated in the raked seating, from about 4 rows back or miss the entirety of any floor work. We were in row AA, the first of the raked seating, and missed most of it. (Don’t be fooled by thinking that the closer you are to this stage the better vantage point you’ll get. What you’ll get is a crookneck!).


afgroup-0021The launch event was held in the foyer by the bar, with drinks and too-hard-to-handle canapés laid on. I never take for granted good catering, with teeny tiny neat morsels, masses of serviettes and constant attention from the staff so there is no awkwardness or mess. While the staff did their utmost, they had little chance of winning and I dread to think how many super-size-me Malay chicken sticks and deep-fried meatballs (or were they arrancini balls?) were wasted because they were simply too large to eat while standing and talking with a drink in hand. It’s a practical decision, which has little, if anything, to do with the fact that you may or may not turn up hungry to these sorts of events. Thank goodness Poppy and I had already enjoyed wild rice and Catalan stew at home.


The launch was short and sweet, with technology allowing us a sneak peak at the entire season of Sunshine Coast Council’s entertainment program, including theatre, dance, music, comedy and children’s entertainment. I know that Sunshine Coast peeps had better be booking early for a heap of these shows – it’s a great selection – and my tip is that if you get organised you can possibly halve your trips to Brisbane this year. And introduce some new friends and family members to the joy of live theatre. My picks are Animal Farm, Art, Jack Charles, Daniel Gartrell, R & J, Giselle, The Ten Tenors, and the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.  The kids should definitely get to Flipside Circus, Fluff, Possum Magic and The Wiggles. But wait! THERE’S A WIGGLES’ WOMAN NOW?! #forserious #whatofit



Following the launch, we were invited to attend Melbourne Ballet Company’s Infinite Space, comprising four separate pieces, choreographed by Resident Choreographer, Simon Hoy (and Robert Kelly, Co-Choreographer of In One Day). The highlight was seeing Alexander Bryce on a Sunshine Coast stage again, and I wondered why the names of the artists did not appear anywhere. An oversight? Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance members had to ask me, “Who IS that?!” because of course they were able to recognise him but couldn’t place him without a name to put to that familiar face and form. Bryce commands attention and I think we’ll see him moving well beyond Melbourne Ballet Company.


Poppy’s definitive comment following the first piece, In One Day was, “It was about relationships.” And while I agree absolutely with her, because I saw masculine-feminine struggles, relationships, image, identity, sexuality, insecurity, manipulation and bullying, apparently we were waaay off the mark and it’s actually a work that “celebrates physicality and athleticism” and was created to “pay tribute to the city of Melbourne.” Well! Okay. But I have to tell you that the main homage appeared to be to the likes of Material Girl Madonna and Gaultier (I even thought of the original, disturbing The Beauty Myth book cover!), in dance gear that was nude ruched satin pin-up booty pants and tops. I know, I know, it’s a slight nod that I’ve taken to be total inspiration. Totally not the case. It’s just where my head goes. This garb is pretty plain in comparison. Simple. Functional. A little bit fun and shiny. And absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of the dancers, as they moved in and out of shadows that may or may not have been intentional…



Because I hadn’t been asked to review the show, because Poppy hasn’t been 100% this week, and because we have a massive weekend planned, we left after In One Day. The work that I’d really hoped to see (Infinite Space) was the final one of the night and sadly, I realised that we’d be missing it.


The Sunshine Coast is such a strange place for entertainment. We do festivals exceptionally well, particularly in Noosa. It was such a joy to spend the evening with our gorgeous friends, Trena and Murray. Trena is the publicist extraordinaire for Noosa Longweekend (and at least ten or eleven other fabulous clients), and in speaking with her, I realised that we are about to be flung head first into our crazy festival season. I knew it was creeping up on us but OMG HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS PEOPLE! As well as Woodford Folk Festival each year, we have Floating Land, Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Noosa Longweekend, Noosa Jazz Festival and before any of that, we’re celebrating on Sunday at the Ocean Street World Festival! Everybody goes to the festivals. To get people in through the theatre doors is another matter entirely. But now there’s no excuse not to go more often to the theatres, is there?!


There’s some great stuff being offered in the council venues this year and it’s not just the shows I’m talking about. Check out the workshops, film festivals, and special events too. It’s easy to connect with the arts/venues arm of Council, via their Sunshine Coast Venues and Events website and Facebook pages. You can also subscribe to the e-newsletters so you’ll never miss a one-night-only show again. With the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance season, professional touring productions, fabulous dinner theatre, dance events and all of those festivals, there is literally TOO MUCH TO DO HERE! GET AMONGST IT! And if you stayed to see the rest of the show after Interval tonight, do let me know your thoughts!