Thursday, 6 March 2003

Svila/Mr. Phase/ Bumping Heads , March 6, 2003

 Svila,  Mr. Phase  and Bumping Heads
North Melbourne Town Hall, 6 to 15 March, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Svila, Mr. Phase and Bumping Heads comprises three short pieces that had success during the 2002 Next Wave Festival. The evening is eclectic because each employs a different form of contemporary performance.

In Svila, (meaning 'silk') Anna Liebzeit  creates a sound collage combining spoken word, sound design and song. The story is based on Liebzeit's journey to Novi Sad  in former Yugoslavia, to investigate the past of her father and grandmother.

The performer stands at a microphone like a singer fronting a band. She speaks snatches of poetic narrative, describes her visit and creates an abstract picture of her family's experience in war and immigration.

Liebzeit's own vocal voice and abstract movement is underlaid with a musical and vocal soundscape designed with Steven Adam. This piece in interesting for its content although it is so fragmented the story cannot be clear. Liebzeit is at her best when singing.

Mr. Phase provides performer, Christopher Brown,  with a vehicle to show his skill. He is a compelling and talented performer.  Margaret Cameron's  stylish direction allows him to slide and leap between character, by modulating voice and physicality.

The piece, written by Brown with Thomas Howie,  with sound design by David Franzke,  is clever and funny .
However, its content is hackneyed. It is another parody of television shows and advertising.

Mr. Phase is a man bred without human contact. His only character modelling was through television images, roles and slogans. The piece is relentlessly physical and the torrent of language becomes difficult to absorb finally.

Bumping Heads is performed by Brandan Shelper,  with Claire Byrne. This is an almost totally physical piece of theatre.

It is a series of vignettes about relationship. The form crosses acrobatics and contemporary dance. The least effective scenes are those with dialogue. Both performers are charming and skillful. The collisions of body and personality evoke human relationships through the body rather than dialogue.

The program of three works is worth a look.

By Kate Herbert

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