Thursday, 27 May 2004

Sideshow by Rawcus, May 27, 2004

Sideshow by Rawcus
North Melbourne Town Hall, May 27 to until June 4, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 27

Sideshow is a visual and physical performance based on Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus.

A half-woman, half-bird, (Valerie Hawkes) becomes a celebrated circus trapeze artist, adored by fans, loved by one man and treated as a freak.

Rawcus is a company comprising actors with and without disabilities. The different abilities of the cast become an integral part of Kate Sulan's production. Two wheelchairs (Ray Drew, Stephen Ajzenberg) dance or are pulled and twirled by a thick rope.

The pace is deliberately slow and Hawkes is a charming bird woman.  The rest of the cast plays various character roles. Sulan finds ingenious ways to create circus images in this dreamlike world. The artists check their images in mirrors attached to the backs of others. The erection of an enormous circus tent becomes a charming clown routine and mock fistfight between two actors. (John Tonso, Nick Papas)

Inside the tent, as shadow images, we see an exotic dancer, (Kerryn Poke) a strong man, a woman on a tight wire, a man taming a tiny lion with a chair and a man dances (Clem Baade). In the dressing room, artists apply make up and there erupts a wild diva dance battle between the exotic dancer and bird woman. Four wooden chairs double as a tightrope as two people (Louise Riisik, Kellyann Bentley) walk tentatively across them and other move them (Rachel Edward, Nilgun Guven).

They all scratch and wriggle until the bird woman appears with freshly sprouted feathered wings on her back. The wing contraption (Mark Postlethwaite, Hamish Bartle) opens and shuts perfectly on the woman's back. She appears to fly as she is lifted on the back of another actor. A man (Ray Drew) falls in love with her. He calls faintly, "Are you real? Do you have a soul? Can you love?"

The design (Emily Barrie) is a huge open space with theatrical trunks scattered and dragged around it and used as stages, seats or props. Video images are projected onto the tent with lines of text. "I can hear the clouds. I can smell the wings". Sound design by Jethro Woodward captures the eeriness and circus quality while Richard Vabre's lighting complete the mood.

Sideshow is a sweet and poignant entertainment.

LOOK FOR: The tight rope walk on four chairs.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment