A good word to describe Times Journey Through a Room is, ‘Deliberate’. Nothing is wasted on stage. Every moment, every line, every step is contemplated, undertaken, then considered before we move to the next.
It’s a quiet story told with care. A man (Mari Ando) is sitting in his room, his back to the audience. With him in the room is a woman (Izumi Aoyagi), who slowly moves around the space, questioning him about their relationship, about what happened to her and them as a couple after the 2011 earthquake. Meanwhile, another woman (Yo Yoshida) is travelling to meet the same man, not knowing that when she finally reaches him he may not be as alone as she thinks.
It’s a premise that almost sounds tawdry, but that’s far away from what it is. Instead, what we have is a piece about memory, love, and how we can become haunted.
The deliberate pace magnifies effects and actions. A small fan on a net curtain becomes the open door on a balcony. Other sounds that should be incidental are made larger by being connected to light. A dripping tap is a flaring light bulb, each phone chirp a light in a drum, reflecting up off the ceiling. Cables trace themselves along the floor to the various bits of tech – this isn’t a piece afraid of its seams showing.
Not everything seemed to work. It felt as if there was a natural ending to the story about 10-15 minutes before the actual end, yet it kept going. Also, there was a nice bit of audience interaction at the very beginning (“Close your eyes… Open your eyes”) that could have been played with as a device elsewhere in the piece.
Some of the imagery – particularly with keeping the man’s body mostly pointing upstage – was reminiscent of Gasper Noe’s Enter the Void. There, too, the camera lingers in the silence. Here, the silences are everything, because they’re not simply gaps. They are a thought, the pause before speaking, the hesitation before moving. When one character finally makes contact with another, there was weight to that moment that would have been lost otherwise. In the end, this was a gentle piece with moments of beauty.
Times Journey Through a Room
Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 11 February 2017 – 7.30pm
Season: 9 – 12 February 2017
Image: Times Journey Through a Room – photo by Bryony Jackson
Review: David Collins