Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 21 November 2016
Animal, Nov 18, 2016 ***1/2
THEATRE Created by Susie Dee, Kate Sherman &
Nicci Wilkes, by inFlux Theatre
Works, until Nov 27, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Mon Nov 21, 2016 and later in print. KH
Kate Sherman & Nicci Wilkes
wordless, soundless, violent world, two girls struggle to survive the horrors
of their circumstances.
confronting piece of physical theatre created by director, Susie
Dee, with performers, Nicci
Wilkes and Kate Sherman, investigates through movement the violence perpetrated
The performance is intensely visceral and has no
spoken dialogue, although words and phrases appear projected on a rear screen
and the wild appearance and violent actions of the two actors speak volumes.
a brief, opening video of a farmhouse suggests that the two girls live in an
isolated, rural location, the show has no linear narrative but uses a visually
compelling, abstract style that is precisely choreographed, although its obtuseness
sometimes leaves the intention of the piece unclear.
and Sherman appear to be young sisters, dressed in filthy, old-fashioned and
childish dresses that they swap as if their identities are mutable and
trapped inside a dim, grey, prison-like warehouse (Designed by Marg Horwell) where
they climb and crawl like animals over stacked packing crates and a floor
littered with debris.
urgent actions teeter on the edge of rough play and outright violence as they
run in circles, chasing and being chased, one moment being the pursuer and the
next the pursued.
through fear and frenetic movement, blindfold each other, taunt and tease, punch
each other mercilessly or harm themselves, wrestle playfully or attack like
dogs biting, rolling and tearing at each other.
strangely moving element is that the girls express very little emotion, except
when they are separated when panic and fear kick in, and their tough composure
poignant, repeated scene, the girls perform a coy, girlish dance duet in which they
lift their skirts to reveal their over-sized, un-sexy panties; a dance that we
fear is performed for a predatory man whose presence threatens then constantly.
disturbing scenes are those in which the girls transform their dance into a
provocative, sexualised, adult stripper’s routine that leads to what we can
only assume to be rape.
communication is wordless, over-sized projections of phrases comment cryptically
on their predicament: ‘Born in this skin’ and ‘Mercy be upon this breath.’
(Projected words by Angus Cerini.)
their silence is an intermittent, frightening roaring (Soundscape by Kelly
Ryall) that sounds like huge trucks passing on a highway and leaves the
audience’s nerves jangled.
frenetic and chaotic activity escalates throughout the 50-minute show, but the
final, triumphant scene – one that suggests freedom and overcoming adversity – seems
disconnected from the direction of the preceding violence and makes an
an accomplished and fearless piece that employs primal physicality and
distressing imagery to raise issues about violence against women.