An abstract work combining interactive 3D images and audio technologies with contemporary dance and physical theatre skills, Encoded proved an appropriately tantalising entrée to Segue 2015 – a weekend festival of cutting edge European and Australian theatre works.

Conceived and directed by David Clarkson, Encoded begins in the darkened theatre, when, to the accompaniment of an electronic soundscape, two figures emerge from either side of the theatre wearing praying mantis-like attachments which project vibrating patterns on to their bodies.

They slowly make their way down to the stage, and are met by a third figure in similar attire. Reaching the stage, they turn ominously towards the audience. The effect is unnerving, but at the same time exhilarating and laden with anticipation as to what will follow.

The figures discard the attachments as though emerging from chrysalis, and are joined by a fourth. We can now see that there are two men and two women, Timothy Ohl, Lee-Anne Litton, Joshua Thomson and Miranda Wheen. They begin to dance slowly among projected black and white snowflake images, and as they do, the images swirl around them like scattered autumn leaves on water.

Among the kaleidoscopic changes, ropes descend from the ceiling. One of the men takes a rope and uses it to walks up the back wall, creating a disconcerting change of perspective which suggests the audience is now observing him from above.

Occasionally the performers simply sit among the images. At other times they swing out over the audience, or perform manoeuvres on the ropes. The effect is beguilingly dream-like and seductive, and while no particular narrative suggests itself, there is satisfaction in simply indulging in the beauty of the changing images as if observing some dreamy mobile artwork, and at the same time admiring the imagination of the creators and the skill of the performers.

The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West
Season: 8 – 9 May 2015

For more information, visit: www.stalker.com.au for details.

Image: Encoded by Stalker Theatre – photo by Matthew Syres

Review: Bill Stephens