Polarity @ The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane 13th September 2010 – Live Review

Review: Lana Harris

  The performance starts in enmeshed innocence, dancer wrapped around dancer, cheek to cheek, limb to limb, ebbing and flowing into one another. Behind these demonstrations of closeness sits a man alone in a chair. Far away from him is a woman in a lounge room setting – flickering lamp, thick rug, and a lonely expression. They both ignore the blatant yet playful seduction occurring in front of them. The dancers too, are oblivious to these others: wrapped up in the intensity of their unfolding romance, their focus remains themselves and their explorations. There is no question we are watching the beginnings of love.

And then the world flips upside down. A psychic split resulting in a separation of the previously inseparable pair. Unity erupts into chaos. All the performers join the dance; each pair out of sync with the other as they execute twisted and tortured manoeuvres that make it seem like gravity doesn’t even exist. It can’t last, and doesn’t. Eventually the men retreat and gravity reappears ten times as strong. All a girl can do is melt to the floor as despair, rage and confusion take over the body, surrounded by shattered intimacy as the men sit mute and alone on the sides of the stage.

Oh sure, they come together again, but it’s different this time: the movements are harsher, they can’t keep it together, one person moves forward as the other moves back, the dyad is still one but it’s a one at war with itself.

Throughout the performance, many faces of woman slip by. Regal to rag doll, submissive to dominant, exploiter and exploited appear. As strong as their partners, the women take their turns to hold the men up, straddling them, pushing and pulling them in equal measures to the counterpoints of being flipped, held and even stood upon.

Polarity – the visceral expression of the mass of writhing emotions that form between the edges of relationship boundaries. ‘I love you’ and ‘It’s over’ are small sentences, but what they imply is anything but tiny. Polarity captures the feelings relationships invoke and shows them to us in physical form. It is startling to realise how pure a translation this can be, and credit for the accurate portrayals must go to the dancers (Timothy Brown, Elise May, Samantha Mitchell, Anthony Trojman) as well as to the transcriber herself – the choreographer Nerida Matthaei.

Event: Polarity (Theatre/Dance)
Venue: The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
Date: 13th September 2010

Review: Lana Harris