Venue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Jan 21 – 26, 2014
Directors: Ruth Naylor-Smith, Deb Pope, Meline Danielewicz
Music: Derek Nisbet, Patrick Larley, Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Performers: Alex Harvey, Charlotte Mooney, Grania Pickard, Steve Ryan
Aerial acrobatics can be relied upon to provide exciting thrills, as it easily evokes sensations of tension and vertigo, but to create narratives and imagery that bear strong aesthetic appeal within that framework is a challenging one. Ockham’s Razor succeeds in presenting beautiful imagery and emotionally involving pieces while allowing acrobatics to remain centre stage. Their stylistic choices are always simple, but they are masters at communicating to our eyes. They know exactly what we look at at every point in time, and they feed us everything we need by controlling how our eyes move and what we focus on.
Their show incorporates the art of miming, through which they surreptitiously acquire our empathy and identification. Relationships between characters are established ambiguously, but our connection with them are certain. In Arc, we see a love triangle set against a backdrop reminiscent of a shipwreck. The performance plays with ideas of emotional turbulence, using it to create a sense of breathtaking danger at every turn. Memento Mori presents life and death as a romance, one that is always at the brink of devastation. Their movements in space allegorise our intimate relationships with love and death, with moments of tenderness, and cruelty. The final work Every Action… injects humour into their craft. It is the liveliest section of the triple bill, cleverly applying mischief and playfulness to their acrobatic skills. The team looks especially effortless in their approach here, but are still able to elicit gasps of surprise and pleasure from the crowd.
Opening night saw fairly long intervals between each work. It is understandable that set up has to be completed thoroughly with no room for error, but with each break, the mood in the auditorium slumps down from the fervour we had been left with at the end of the previous piece. It truly does feel like a waste to not pick up from the enthusiasm and keep building up on the energy. Hopefully subsequent performances will see the gaps shortened.
Music and lighting design are thoughtfully created, adding to the ethereal elegance of these works. There is always a stillness that pervades, like an acknowledgement of the things that could go horribly wrong at any time. We are captivated, by the super-human stunts unfolding before us, the sheer beauty of the choreography, and the irresistible urge to imagine all the “what if’s” that could result from playing with gravity.