It begins from blackout, the smell of haze, and a foreboding pulsating base. As the show progresses, that beat permeates everything. A primitive heartbeat, a frenetic urban rhythm, a rapid timepiece – Robin Fox’s compositions push and pull the performers as they traverse what felt like a compression of human history into one beautiful hour of connection and movement.
There’s a small, dim light, and we see their bodies – Marlo Benjamin, Samantha Hines, Harrison Ritchie-Jones, and Jack Ziesing – entwined on a slowly moving platform that is as unsettling as it is compelling. The light helps to cast an enormous shadow on the wall behind. The sound goes deeper, subterranean. The performers move in foreign and familiar ways. Something is being built.
They’re nearly constantly in opposition to each other and themselves – stillness, then surging; steadiness, then escalation; harmony, then broken. The light keeps their shadows on the wall, but then the light is turned around to face the audience.
It’s a harsh disruption, one of many signs that Director and Choreographer, Stephanie Lake is not afraid to destroy the beautiful things she and her dancers are making. Fox’s music lifts up from the murk to something childlike yet still retaining a measure of darkness, sounding like a Fisher Price mobile with a terrible secret.
There’s more tension to be uncovered. The performers move pure and fluid in an engaging contrast to the square spotlights that gradually tile over the space as they travel. Like a human Newton’s Cradle, they dance and shift off one another in a mix of smooth and staccato choices.
By the end, if any story has asserted itself, it’s one about the geometry of time and space. For all the consumption, the desperation in finding love and human contact, Pile of Bones reminds us that everything is circular, but that it all eventually will end. We return to the blackout we started from.
Pile of Bones
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 16 August 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 19 August 2017
Information and Bookings: www.artshouse.com.au
Image: Jack Ziesing, Samantha Hines, Marlo Benjamin and Harrison Ritchie-Jones perform in Stephanie Lake’s latest work, Pile of Bones at Arts House – photo by Bryony Jackson
Review: David Collins