BWW Review: ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 2017: INTIMATE SPACE at Hilton Hotel

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Saturday 4th March 2017

Restless Dance Theatre has been a respected company in Adelaide for many years. In 2013 Michelle Ryan became the new Artistic Director and things really took off, as her innovative ideas and enthusiastic approach generated excitement amongst the members. They found themselves being challenged to go further than ever before, attempting and succeeding at things that were well beyond previous work. Now, with Intimate Space, the company has taken another big step, mounting 60 performances during the Adelaide Festival, all of which are sold out, and each in extremely close proximity to an audience of only ten people. Ryan has been a great inspiration to the members of this company, progressively lifting the standard of work in such a short time.

This performance takes place at the Hilton Hotel, in the very centre of Adelaide, commencing in the foyer and then on to various locations. This promenade production takes us into a guest room, various corridors, the lift, the laundry, the kitchen, and the balcony above the main bar area as we meet the performers, acting out roles as guests and staff of the hotel.

Each vignette is a moving experience, some poignant, some comical but with a deeper meaning underneath, and some that invoke fury at the attitudes of people towards others. For the benefit of those outside of Adelaide, who would not be aware, it is important to know that Restless is a wonderful, integrated Dance Company for young people with or without a disability.

Describing and analysing each part of the production in great depth would be to spoil it for those yet to see this remarkable work. Darcy Carpenter's Girl in the Suitcase, for example, is heavily filled with powerful metaphor, while Kathryn Evans and Michael Hodyl as the Couple in Bedroom are gentle and playful, just as any couple might be. Jianna Georgiou and Alex Luke offer a loving pas de deux as a Couple on Stairs, to the whispered comments in the wireless headphones that we are given for this segment, ignorant and appalling. Kathryn Adams and Abby Hampton are the Giggling Staff, portraying a disgusting pair making fun of a regular wheelchair-bound customer.

There are many more performers, each adding layers to the narrative and bringing the audience closer to them, willingly putting themselves on the line and opening up to us with an incredible generosity of spirit. It is easy to see why this company has reached the level of being included as a mainstream production in the highly prestigious Adelaide Festival. They are, indeed, a top flight profession group, going from strength to strength, winning friends and influencing people at every turn.

It is not surprising that they attract some of the best in the business to be involved with them, this performance featuring the work of composer, Jason Sweeney, and lighting designer, Geoff Cobham, with costumes designed by Meg Wilson.

One can only hope that the season gets extended beyond the closing date for the Festival, or has a return season. So many people will miss out on seeing this sensational piece, with every performance having sold out well in advance. I am sure that there would be vast numbers rueing the fact that they did not book early.


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