Friday, 12 April 2013

Song, Ranters, April 12, 2013 ***

By Ranters Theatre 
North Melbourne Town Hall, April 12 to 21, 2013 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 12 
 This review also published on line in Herald Sun on Thurs April 18. It may also appear in print. KH 

Imagine that you are reclining under a moonlit sky, in a forest populated by night birds, insects, surrounded by whispering trees, a rushing creek and the scent of wet leaves and eucalyptus.

Harmonising voices from unseen locations, often accompanied by guitar and piano, sing eccentric, folk-style songs about the natural or built environment, love and loss.

The experience is strangely soothing and meditative; like being at a 1970s, overnight, hippy festival in a rainforest, or having a massage accompanied by a mesmerising soundtrack.

This is Song, the new work from Ranters Theatre and the Cortese brothers, Adriano and Raimondo.

Song is more an installation than a piece of theatre, a listening rather than a watching experience that slows your pulse and allows your mind to drift to still and unexpected places as the evocative music, soundscape (J. David Franzke) and lighting (Stephen Hennessey) waft over you.

The cavernous space of the Town Hall is littered with people lying prone on strips of astroturf or perched on canvas stools and their shifting postures create a rippling wave of movement that becomes part of the performance.

Suspended above the audience is an enormous, moon-like disc, (by Brazilian visual artist, Laura Lima) that glows with gold, pink or cool blue light as the mood changes.

Floating from speakers overhead are songs– sung live, but off-stage – by UK musician, James Tyson – with additional text by Raimondo Cortese – sung by Tyson with Ranters’ members, Paul Lum and Patrick Moffatt.

Although it features some fine classical guitar work and hummable songs, the music is not memorable and the lyrics often don’t scan well, but its acoustic, folksy flavour matches the cool, gentle rhythm of the performance.

It is a pleasure to leave a performance feeling less stressed than when you arrived and, although this show will not appeal to all, it is an event that challenges our senses and our view of live performance.

By Kate Herbert

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