Lighting and AV designed by Toby Knyvett – Costume design by Libby McDonnell
Co-production by Circa and Merrigong Theatre Company
Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse 6th to 9th September, 2017
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
Circa never ceases to surprise. “Landscapes with Monsters” sets out to tell the story of post-industrial cities in decay. It was developed and premiered in Wollongong. The show is performed by an ensemble cast of seven brilliant athletes, three women and four men, in a bleak setting relieved only by projected images of belching furnaces. The costumes are industrial, resembling everyday work clothes. The only props are a collection of multi-sized boxes and a huge metal ladder.
However, far from being dull, these remarkably gifted performers, under the inspired direction of Yaron Lifschitz, transform these mundane objects into a playground for exploration and delight, responding to the dictum, “Don’t do anything the hard way. Find an even harder way to do it”.
They crawl all over each other, hang off slippery boxes by their finger-tips, squeeze their bodies into impossible positions in alarming situations. Arms, legs and backsides pop out from the most unlikely places as they cram each other into a variety of different sized boxes. At one point, all seven scramble for position all struggling to occupy the top of a refrigerator sized box. The way they resolve this situation and dismount this box has to be seen to be believed.
They throw each other around, balance on each other’s extremities, and do heart-stopping acrobatics on top of a 20 ft. metal ladder. One particularly alarming moment occurs when two of the men balance this ladder precariously right out over the audience.
The level of trust between the performers is extraordinary, and the ingenuity and complexity of the routines, jaw-dropping. There are hints of relationships and rejection, all performed with a cheeky, good-humoured ambiguity. No need to wonder what a girl balancing dangerously on boxes in ballet point shoes has to do with post-industrial cities, just enjoy the originality of the act.
|Kathryn O'keefe and Conor Neall in "Landscape with Monsters"
By the way, that girl in point shoes is former Canberran, Kathryn O’Keefe. And because there were no printed programs available for the audience, you might like to know that her equally hard-working colleagues are Jessica Connell, Tim Fyffe, Scott Grove, Conor Neall, Seppe Van Looveren and Billie Wilson-Coffey. All of whom stamped their unique, sunny personalities on another amazing Circa creation.
Pictures by Vichal Pandey
This review also appears in Australian Arts Review. www.artsreview.com.au