Review: Chi Udaka (TaikOz / Lingalayam)

chiudakaVenue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), Jan 16 – 18, 2013
Directors: Anandavalli & Ian Cleworth
Choreographer: Anandavalli
Music: Ian Cleworth, Riley Lee, Aruna Parthiban, John Napier

Theatre review
Chi Udaka sees a collaboration between two Australian companies from disparate backgrounds. TaikOz’s performance is based on Japanese percussion and wind instruments, and Lingalayam explores traditional Indian dance and music. Both companies work with specific disciplines and cultural influences, but come together to seek out a mode of expression that combines their respective talents. Whether discovering similarities or using disparities, Chi Udaka features a showcase with flashes of symbiosis, discordance and parallels.

Directors Anandavalli and Ian Clenworth do not seem to work with an ideal outcome in mind, but focus instead on a sense of exploration and surprise. What results is a production that is unpredictable and intriguing. One unifying component is a mesmerising quality that both cultures possess within their own forms, and their show together is definitely an enthralling experience. There is a spiritual element that is undeniable in the work, and in spite of the diversity in modern religious lives, it appeals to the sacred in each person, and aims for an uplifted audience.

An unfortunate flaw in the production is lighting design. Largely due to the restrictions of the York Theatre, which does not have conventional wings to allow for floods of light to illuminate the performers bodies effectively, the production has a muted look that prevents a greater, more direct connection with the audience. Relying on lamps from fly bars and footlights work well in the more subdued sections, but they detract from the efforts on stage in the more rousing moments of the piece.

Chi Udaka is a modern Australian marriage, imagined and realised by adventurous and brave people in the arts. It is a new dawn in our continuing re-definition of the Australian identity in our artistic and social landscapes, and while things may not always be smooth and easy going, this is a show that demonstrates a desire for purity and a respect for pluralism. It is a joyful moment when we are able to cherish all our different histories, and converge with trust and peace to create a new voice, one that embraces all that is good about the land on which we live and breathe.

The Slow Days: Distilled (King Street Theatre)

The Slow DaysVenue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Sep 12 – 14, 2013
Clare Heuston: keys, ukulele, vocals
Tess Aboud: ukulele, vocals
Dan OpdeVeigh: guitars, percussion, vocals

Show review
The Slow Days is a band that writes and performs songs that can be described as modern folk music. Although occasionally melancholic, their sound is characteristically light and spiritual. No religious affiliation is immediately evident, but this trio’s performance is certainly the opposite of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Distilled is a 50-minute set that features original tunes from each of the musicians, and it must be said that the show is tightly rehearsed. The set list is carefully planned, and the audience is taken on a very pleasant journey with each song bearing an individuality that keeps the show fresh and surprising.

While each member of the band retains their own personality, the group maintains a comfortable and warm cohesion. It is however, notable that Clare Heuston’s voice is particularly mesmerising. The range of tones she is able to produce, most memorably in her song Pearl, and the ease with which she reaches every note, high or low, makes for a very special and exhilarating afternoon of alternative music.…