Thursday, 15 April 1999

98.4% DNA being human , 15 April 1999

By desoxy Theatre
David Williamson Theatre Swinburne University Prahran until May 2, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is a peculiar irony in watching Teresa Blake and Daniel Witton of desoxy Theatre in their physical theatre show, 98.4% DNA being human  As they explore the bizarrre notion of human evolution, we are observing the equally unbelievable things they are doing with their two bodies.

Our fascination begins with their first moments of primordial movement in dim light. It is impossible to discern whether these two figures are male or female. Witton and Blake work in a state of near-androgyny that is enhanced by the silvery mesh body suits with hood, the musculature and the shared weightbearing of the performers.

The central concept, inherent in the title, is that humans have 98.4% of their DNA in common with apes. Only 1.6% separates us from the animals; genetic engineering has only this narrow bridge to cross.

The initial action follows roughly, human evolution from primordial slime, through lizard, fish and bird phases of life. The physical work is elemental and the soundscape designed by Darren Steffen, heightens this effect. At times, the two are not merely indistinguishable in gender, but are transformed into a single creature.

The evolution continues as these mute, non-specific creatures exchange bodily fluids then genitalia. Finally, we are confronted with sexual humanoids that are astonished by their first utterance, "You're looking stunning this evening." It has its hilarious moments.

The performers wear body microphones inside their headgear that, initially, make the vocal sounds seem strangely and effectively disembodied. When they later use language, the sounds more clearly emanated directly from the performers.

The physical skills of these two are exceptional. Their unity of spirit and body is dazzling. They roll and mutate as if made of clay. They lift, leap, fold and twirl. They even walk on the rear wall in an extraordinary illusion of walking on the moon.

After human evolution reaches awareness and then civilisation, concepts of life and genetics become part of the vocal text. They examine elephants and chimpanzees then explore death and regeneration.

The performance itself has evolved over its three year lifespan. It loses some focus in the final 20 minutes and could do with some editing or clarifying, but it is a fine physical theatre performance.
By Kate Herbert

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