Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Opera For A Small Mammal, Dec 4, 2013 ****

Written & performed by Margaret Cameron
Chamber Made & Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye in association with La Mama
La Mama Theatre, Carlton, Dec 4 to Dec 15, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun online Fri Dec 6, 2013 and later in print. KH

Margaret Cameron’s performance work is the epitome of eccentricity and defies description – but here goes!

In her solo piece bearing the bizarre title, Opera For A Small Mammal, Cameron introduces herself as Regina Josefine del Mouse, an eloquent, peculiar, mouse-like character who lives in the dusty backstage corners of an opera house like a faded diva.

Cameron is captivating as this elegant, otherworldly creature, with her twitching wobble-headedness, tea-sipping, convoluted word games and absurd, little dances.

Josefine’s shattered persona is both tragic and comical, and her pale tears, absurd distraction and inspired poetic musings are often undercut by puns, wry glances or squeaks as she squeezes little squeakers hidden in her sleeves.

She hides away from artistry and artistes, exploring the meaning of art and language, searching for “the audible fruit of meaning” as she nibble on a tart lemon.

Cameron’s every action as Josefine is compelling and unexpected: she playfully taps her toe on a bell to provide a “footnote”, picks out a tune on a tiny grand piano, hauls on a huge bell-pull that emits a lion’s roar, or parades like a queen around the confining circle of her Edwardian salon.

But it is Cameron’s expressive, clown-like face and distinctive vocal quality that make her performance indelible, even if you miss the subtle permutations of language and meaning.

She exudes the poignant grief of a demented, wild-eyed soul, with a despairing glint of grief in her watery eyes, and her rich, resonant, velvet tones are counterpointed by bright, piping, mouse-like notes as she twitters, “Pipe!”

Rather than being a linear narrative, her text is an elaborate collision of ideas and images drawn from diverse sources and performed with lyrical, fluid language that organically shift the location, content and meaning.

Plaited into Cameron’s distinctive, new script are elements from 50s Beat poet, Michael McClure’s play, Josephine the Mouse Singer, Gertrude Stein’s poetry, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helene Cixous and Michel Foucault’s writings.

This idiosyncratic performance by the consummate artist, Cameron, may have greater appeal for connoisseurs of contemporary theatrical performance, but it is a delicacy that can be savoured by all.

By Kate Herbert

Written and performed by Margaret Cameron
Directed by David Young
Sound design by Jethro Woodward
Lighting Design by Danny Pettingill
Image by Daisy Noyes

No comments:

Post a Comment