Thursday, December 06, 2007

Not A Review: Brindabella

I'm really hesitant to write about Balletlab's new show Brindabella here. Not for any particularly complicated reason. Mostly because I don't want to send anyone along with any preconceptions about the work. If I were to say, for instance, that it was the best piece of dance I've seen all year, I'd be setting up some lofty expectations. If I were to expand that to say that it's among the most sublime, affecting and flat-out jaw-dropping pieces I can ever remember seeing, well, those expectations would skyrocket. And if I were to add that it's in the tiny handful of works that remind me, once every long, long while, why I do what I do... anyway, I won't say those things. Even if they might be true.

But sometimes a person must stand up for what they believe in. Too often, of late, I have returned home from a performance and neglected to write it up here - distracted by domestic matters, such as the never-ending expansions being carried out on the East Wing of my cliff-hugging coastal retreat (work which seems to be spiralling out into infinity, both spatially and temporally, well beyond the logical possibilities of the house itself, as if the very idea of expansion is what is being renovated here, load-bearing walls and uncovered crawl-spaces giving way to an elsewhere which has always been present but never accessible...) or the preparations for my weekly sermons to the rude and superstitious local townsfolk - a people not mentioned on any census and violently protective of their insular community - on such regionally relevant topics as The Likely Causes of Yesterday's So-Named "Vacuum Torrent"; Upon the Chanting Heard in the Walls of Squire Bickerstaff's Lodge; Ruminations on the Impossibility of a Town Map; and What Really Happened to Marigold the Cow. Then there are the matters of the whip-poor-will spread, the difficulties I am having retaining staff, and - of course - the wild brumbies which nightly gather at the north end of the long paddock, standing still in the moonlight, hooves hidden in a sea of mist, staring blind-eyed and silent toward the house as if waiting for something. It's all I can do, upon arriving home, not to give up on everything and simply retreat to the rooftop conservatory where I tend to the breeding of my elusive black orchid.

In short, no time for reviewing.

Brindabella is something else, though. It's a little bit - damn it, it's exactly like falling in love, in the way I fell in love with dance years ago and have spent those years trying to convince people that it's not just a bunch of kids with asymmetrical fringes playing patty cake with each other. I can still name the few shows which have done it - had my skin prickle and my small heart try to leap out of its cavity and which have forced me to remind myself to breathe. During the opening last night I was confused, dazzled, constantly surprised, unsteady, sometimes ecstatic. Leaving, I was both speechless and gushing and not just for the dramatic effect this might have in the foyer. I was completely in love with the thing and wanted to have its babies (not medically possible for various reasons).

Others might hate it, though. I wouldn't be surprised. But if you go along - and there's no other show I can more highly recommend this year - and have a reaction somewhere in between, I'll explain laboriously why You Are Wrong. I can even draw diagrams. Nothing comes close to Brindabella, for me, and it and it and it -

I have however seen a lot of shows in the past week - Eleventh Hour's Othello, Lipson's Antechamber, With a Bullet, Spamalot, the SITI workshop showing at Black Box. All great works, in fact. I'll try to get to these in a bit. But put into relief... Screw it, just go see Brindabella and we'll talk from there. It's on at the Malthouse till the weekend.

1 comment:

richardwatts said...

Your cliff-hugging coastal retreat and its surrounds seem positively Lovecraftian, sir - but yes, Brindabella' is without doubt a work of genius. I am seriously thinking of atending a second performance. Care to join me?