Before this review approaches critical mass and threatens to collapse in on itself from the weight of every superlative and mythic/poetic/impressionistic description I can wring from the thesaurus, allow me to say that Oracle: A Mythical Journey Through the Stars is the latest show from Bass Fam Creative.
Lead by writer and director Bass G Fam, his team of choreographers and designers have produced an extraordinary production that pulls together origin stories for the 12 signs of the zodiac.
Whether in awe, curiosity, or attempting to gain understanding as to our place in the universe, humans have always looked up to the night sky and while outside the Arts Centre it was still light, on-stage night had fallen.
Artists skilled in dance, song, circus arts, and burlesque left the audience mesmerised. Oracle was intoxicating and like such experiences to watch the show in the moment was to witness incendiary, breath-taking numbers set like jewels in a moment of time.
Yet, to describe the show to other people days later was a gloriously muddled recollection of the most wonderful shifts of sound and motion.
While the conceit of using pre-recorded remixes and alternative versions of songs underneath strong and stylistic physical storytelling is the same for Oracle as it was across Bass Fam Creative’s previous works Matador and Mansion – like those shows Oracle also features elements unique to it.
Here, the primary new feature is the inclusion of live singing performed by the titular Oracle herself, played by Jazmin Varlet. Jazmin gives a powerful performance, worthy of the myths her character knits together as each sign takes their place in the heavens
Accompanied by the character of The Angel, rendered with effortless beauty by dancer Lisa Herbert, the Oracle passes judgement on so many exquisite figures: Such as the aerial mastery from Reed Kelly and Jack Dawson playing brothers who become the Gemini twins, their love for each other ferociously defying age and death; and Rhys Bobridge whose stunning burlesque had the audience in rapture.
Bettie Bombshell as Hercules whose fire and roar and burlesque made for a dazzling ascension as the constellation Leo; and Adam Malone whose performance as Amun Ra was just as spellbinding – as all the artists and their routines were across both Acts.
After telling its 12 stories, Oracle arrives at a spectacular finale that brings the full cast out to receive the copious applause from a grateful audience they have earned ten times over.
The rehearsal process must have been daunting as much as it was thrilling and it speaks to the talent of Bass and the commitment of all the artists on and off stage that the show – made up of so, so many different pieces – is as coherent and feels as complete as it is.
The production’s current run in Melbourne has finished and cast and crew begin (delays not withstanding) an interstate tour. So, should you make every effort to see Oracle when/if it ever returns to Melbourne? Yes, Papi.
Oracle: A Mythical Journey Through the Stars
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 7 January 2022
Season: 5 – 8 January 2022
ORACLE will be presented as part of the 2022 Adelaide Fringe in The Octagon at Gluttony – Rymill Park: 18 February – 20 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.
Images: Reed Kelly and Jack Dawson – photo by Ben Vella | Jazmin Varlet – photo by Ben Vella
Review: David Collins