The switch from a suburban Newstead street to the liminal, transitory space of Disturbo was cleverly achieved by leading the first night audience into a darkened warehouse. Our senses were heightened, as we adjusted to the light levels; everyone trod carefully, watching out for uneven surfaces and trip hazards. We were intrigued, and possibly just a little unsettled, as we were embraced by an eerie, otherworldly soundscape (Jay Radford, additional music by Holly Herndon/SOPHIE).
The last Anywhere Festival show I saw which involved the talented Alex Mizzen (Disturbo co-director and lighting design) was the memorable 2018 Invisible Things. Disturbo is certainly different, but is also a piece of performance art. Two figures come out from the shadows (performers and co-creators, Felix Egger and Jay Radford). Gradually they begin to shed their outer layers, and start the uneasy journey to be together: small steps, to become closer, balanced by more active ‘fighting’ under the strobe light, with other scenes that include intimate dance moves, and allusions to S&M.
Translated from Italian, disturbo can mean disorder, inconvenience, trouble, or annoyance. In this show I’d interpret it more as the challenges and frisson of a new relationship. The journey to establish a partnership. The finding of a way to strip away the societal veneer, in order to love yourself as well as your partner (here at one point literally stripping away the nylon outer skin on the face).
Mizzen and Bare Legs Circus have co-directed an interesting piece that combines physical theatre, dance, rope work, and lip synch to bring a love story about intimacy to the ‘stage.’ My personal highlight was the fabulous skill on the rope, which was a moving counterbalance to the preceding, intimate lip-synch dance.
Egger and Radford have assembled a solid creative team, including the support of Abbey Church (Rigger), Stage Manager (Michael Maggs). Stage Assistant (Grace Law) and Costumes (Amanda Fairbanks). Partnering with Mizzen takes any show to a different level, and not just with the excellent lighting design. Radford’s soundscape was one of the highlights of the evening, and I wasn’t surprised to discover that Radford is not only co-creator and performer but also is a trained sound designer and audio engineer (think Blade Runner meets Brisbane warehouse). And what a space. Placing this show in the empty Get Parked warehouse at night, was an inspired choice. I wasn’t sure if the old truck was part of the show, but it certainly provided an extra vintage feel to the ‘abandoned’ warehouse.
The world premiere performance was sold out (it is always great to see new work sold out). However, the placing of the seating in the space did mean that those of us in the fourth (back) row were not able to see all of the performance. I’d strongly suggest the team rethink the seating layout, as I did come away feeling that I’d missed out on some of the artistry, and story. What I could see was interesting, and often thought-provoking.
Verdict: Great evocation of a liminal space for this performance art reflection on a relationship journey.
Audience information: 50 minutes. 18+ (adult themes). Strobe lighting (extended) and some smoke haze. Sit in the front row if you can. Three shows in this world premiere season (27-29 May 2021, 8pm) at Get Parked, 24 Austin Street, Newstead. Tickets $25 ($20 concession). Limited street parking.
The reviewer attended the Friday 27th May 2021 (8pm) premiere.