AAR-Belco-Arts-Intimacy-photo-by-Andrew-SikorskiIntimacy is the third production in a series of small shows produced by Belco Arts to introduce its superb new performing space by exploring various human responses utilising variety of performing disciplines. Risk was the focus of L’Entreprise de Risque which drew on circus skills to investigate its topic. Elements of Butoh were incorporated into Mess to explore Isolation.

For Intimacy, the third show in the series, three multi-disciplinary performers, Adam Deusien, Noa Rotem, and Jazida, were teamed with designer, Tiffany Abbott, and tasked with producing a show, during a intensive six-day rehearsal period, exploring the subject of intimacy.

The result is a tantalising 45 minutes of seemingly unrelated and often intriguing collection incidents, which, while entertaining and well executed, often leave the audience guessing as to their relevance to the stated topic.

A large stage occupies one corner of the room. The audience is seated at cabaret tables on two sides. Tiffany Abbott has created an attractive, shadowy, back-stage setting, with angled mirrors in the corner, and racks of gaudy costumes.

When the audience enters they become aware of a performer, dressing gown covering her costume, warming up and perfecting moves on one side.  Another can be noticed upstage in the gloom, examining her make-up in mirrors. The third sits motionless on a large table, centre stage, each seemingly oblivious of the other.

The sound of a performance happening on the imaginary stage beyond, can be heard, and as the show begins, the first performer doffs her dressing gown and makes her entrance, leaving the other two, preparing for their own entrances.

It’s a clever set-up, which neatly establishes each of the performers as theatricals, opening the way for them to perform a  series of set-pieces, shoe-horned into the theme, while  mimicking the real-life situation of three individuals drawn together to present an entertainment.

Deusin establishes his character as a drag performer, launching into an overwrought mimed performance of Maybe This Time, then strengthening that impression with a monologue revealing that his only really intimate relationship has been with his mother. A duologue with Rotem, in which a couple seek intimacy by asking permission to explore each other’s responses, confuses this impression.

Type-cast as a burlesque performer, Jazida performed several polished burlesque routines during the course of the show, including one rather alarming and messy routine involving a lettuce and all three performers, and a spectacular fan-dance in which the angled mirrors created multiple images. A reprise of the duologue, with Jazida replacing Deusin, in asking the permissions, confirmed her strong dramatic presence.

Rotem’s dramatic abilities were also on display in another amusing duologue in which she described an uncomfortable sexual experience, while Deusien described a completely different experience.

As with the previous shows in this series, the technical support was excellent. Abbott’s appropriately tacky theatrical costumes supported the backstage milieu she had created with her set design. Linda Buck’s lighting was again excellent, as was Kyle Sheedy’s sound.

But while there were moments when the three worked together in some rather under rehearsed choreographed movement, a stronger directorial presence might have strengthened the show by clarifing the significance of some of the episodes to the remit.

Belco Arts, 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen (Canberra)
Performance: Thursday 22 October 2020
Season conbtinues to 23 October 2020 (Sold Out)

Image: Noa Rotem and Adam Deusien feature in Intimacy – photo by Andrew Sikorski

Review: Bill Stephens OAM