Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Waiting Room, Nov 28, 2013 ****

The Waiting Room by Born In A Taxi, Big West Festival
The Substation, Nov 28 until Dec 2, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 28 at  8:30pm
Stars:  **** 
Review also published  in Herald Sun online on Nov 29, 2013 and later in print. KH
Audience member in The Waiting Room: pic by Leo Dale

Don’t expect to sit passively in a darkened theatre when you see The Waiting Room by Born In A Taxi because you will incrementally become part of the performance without really noticing.

The Waiting Room, directed by Penny Baron, is a beguiling movement performance that incorporates the signature, non-verbal, improvisational style and captivating audience engagement that distinguishes the award-winning Born In A Taxi.

The piece is an idiosyncratic, inventive view of waiting, how we fill time while we wait, the phone and public address messages that remind us how valuable our time is, and the odd connections we make with strangers during the waiting period.

Initially, nothing happens while the 60 audience members sit in wooden chairs arranged in regimented lines like a school exam room – until six performers enter the waiting room one at a time, taking seats amongst us (Baron, Andrew Gray, Carolyn Hanna, Kate Hunter, Nick Papas, Deborah Batton, Michael Havir).

Slowly and almost imperceptibly they start gesturing, moving, bobbing up and down in their chairs, looking around, catching our eyes and, with gentle, unspoken invitations, compel the audience to participate with them in a silent, simple dance.

They invigorate the performance space and audience with their refreshing, surprising style, keeping us watchful, excited and a bit tentative – at first.

However, with gentle, tacit offers and playful encouragement, the performers urge and inspire people to leap to their feet, clamber across chairs, dance with a partner, then create a mass improvised movement piece without even realising that they are dancing.

Do not be afraid, because there is no pressure to join, merely quiet, persuasive engagement and reassuring glances that embolden the audience and motivate them to contribute.

Nothing and everything happens during the 90 minutes while the work evolves and escalates fluidly.

The outcome is soothing and playful, silent but not mime, dancerly but not balletic, challenging without being confronting and comforting without being predictable.

It all ends with a vivid, dramatic scene that cannot be revealed here, and The Waiting Room leaves the audience cheering “Bravo!” and applauding itself for a delectable, intimate, cheering and oddly therapeutic evening of waiting.

By Kate Herbert
"Unexpected, absurd and funny. Collective human behaviour under the microscope from the amusing to the disturbing surreal. Physical theatre, live art and dance. Winner of Brisbane Powerhouse Performance Award, Melbourne Fringe. Presented by Born In A Taxi & The Substation."
from Big West program.

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