STRUT Dance magnificently transports audiences to the twilight zone through a sensory theatrical experience grounded in nostalgia.
Did you know Dalkeith’s Sunset Heritage Precinct is home to the first talking cinema in the state? Or that it was established as the Claremont Old Men’s Home back in the early 1900s? A precinct steeped in history, it seemed only fitting that its first arts performance would bring this nostalgia back to the fore.
With the assistance of roaming theatre expert Maxine Doyle, STRUT Dance presents an intriguing art piece that melds live music, theatrics and explosive movement together under the roof of an old Art Deco building. The result is a performance that lingers between the present world, the twilight zone and the afterlife.
The night begins around an old gnarled tree covered in festoon lights. To the music of a solo violinist, guests are picked, one by one, and led through the dimly lit precinct. They enter a building and walk between rooms filled with mounds of dirt and sprouting flowers, through a teacup-clad kitchen, and into a grand old hall.
Guests take a seat on one of the many chairs placed at random within the auditorium, a beautiful old Art Deco building with a stage masked behind a pale green curtain. Poking out from the hall’s windows are gum leaves, branches and foliage – an ode to the precinct’s previously condemned fate.
Old tunes fill the hall as guests shuffle to their seats. A mini pantomime takes place on the old theatre stage, before STRUT Dance’s dancers work their way around the auditorium, activating different spaces as they go. They turn the hall’s kitchen into a dance space, playing with jars of flour through the kitchen’s service hatch. They move in haunting synchronicity, outside the building’s windows, in an eerie interpretation of a supernatural world. And they slide down the middle of the room, colliding with each other like lost souls trying to get to a different world.
Guests swivel on their chairs, not knowing where the next part of the story will take them – from the back of the hall to the stage, or from the windows to even the seats around them. At one point, guests play their part in a sort of ‘musical chairs’; performers guiding them by hand to a different part of the hall, as they move their chairs into a new configuration. Then, just as the beginning, guests are led outside one by one, to the edge of the precinct, where they’re met with a spectacular view of the Swan River.
Although the narrative is a little hard to follow, the combination of a masterfully repurposed set, beautiful live music by Tura Music and chaotic-meets-mesmerising interpretation of Greek mythology will keep audiences on the edge of (or in this case, off) their seats.
Visit – Perth Festival https://www.perthfestival.com.au/