Saturday, June 15, 2013

Opal Vapour

Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal
The Street Theatre
June 14 2013
Reviewed by Samara Purnell

To summarise Opal Vapour in a few words, it was beautiful, hypnotic and aurally satisfying. And given a few more – the production by Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal is a well-crafted, multi-faceted and powerful piece of theatre that deserves a bigger audience than it had.

This texturally rich performance is based in Tunggal ‘s Javanese heritage, incorporating elements of traditional shadow puppetry and utilizing fabrics, light, shadow and projection.

Add to that the warm, pure vocals of Ria Soemardjo and her viola and gamelan music. Her singing was beautifully soothing and meditative and paired especially well with Tunggal (who performs on a lightbox) when she appears to float slowly through water, perhaps drowning, perhaps peacefully floating in a mother’s womb. The movement was projected with blue lights, through the well-crafted lighting design and operation by Paula van Beek, and skilfully manipulated to draw the eye between dancer and projection.

Flowing movements pushing sand across the lightbox creating images reminiscent of indigenous art were followed by strong traditional dance moves. Elements of earth and water felt integral as was a sense of watching sacred rituals and the timelessness of death, birth, duty and discovery.

Transitions would have been better made utilizing Soemardjo’s music as a focus. At one stage she is surely the recipient of copious amounts of flying sand.

Tunggal’s hand gestures at times lack the flexibility and nuances that dancers spend years perfecting and the performance lost a little momentum at the end, following the strength of earlier movements but her muscular body and Soemardjo’s presence create a strong synergy and sustain a feminine energy throughout.

An edited version of this review will appear in The CityNews hardcopy and online