Matador Kelly Byrne and Ned ZainaI normally disregard the blurbs on programmes because I love to be surprised by a show and gauge how well they tell a story (or at least gauge how important telling a story is to them).

With Matador, Director, Bass G Fam, and the team of choreographers (Gerard Pigg, Josephine Magliolo, Carmelo Pizzino and Jessica Raffa) tell a thematic story rather than a literal one. And it is wonderful.

Anais Nin once wrote, “I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ.” Indeed, love is a strange territory, wondrous yet fraught with risk and danger. Matador explores these qualities of love and other facets and consequences through dance, circus, and burlesque.

The show orbits around Kelly Byrne as the Matador and Ned Zaina as the Bull. As they tease and move around each other, so too do the other performers take to the stage (often hoisted above it) at the Melba Spiegeltent in a series of vignettes that can only be described as incendiary. Lust, betrayal, sacrifice, acceptance, and more – a myriad of scenes play out, from the tentative to the licentious.

The ensemble was strong and always engaging, filling every scene with a series of arresting moments. Artists like Indigo Hunt, whose physical storytelling was so beautiful, performed a perfect tightrope of spectacle and heart. Supported by Craig Boye’s exceptional lighting design and Will Pyett’s superb music direction, Matador is a brilliant work that deserves good audiences across its late night run.

The Melba Spiegeltent, Johnston Street, Collingwood
Performance: Friday 15 February 2019 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 2 March 2019

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Image: Kelly Byrne and Ned Zaina (supplied)

Review: David Collins