Ode to Man is no Ode to Joy
An ode is a lyrical poem devoted to the praise of a person, animal or thing, often written in an elevated style and expressing deep feeling. It's no wonder that Emma Mary Hall called her work 'Ode to Man', as she spends 55 minutes on stage conversing about the history, persona and psyche of the modern man and romantic ambition in which women supposedly dare dream to have it all. Whether she hates or adores men is unclear, but her dedication and hours of research spent on this project indicates that it's a topic close to her chest. Over the course of 55 minutes, Hall takes us through fifteen chapters all focusing on a different aspect of men often linked with one of her previous experiences with men. In partnership with director Prue Clark, Hall has created a very innovative work, with each chapter having its own unique style; some chapters are presented as slam poems, stand-up comedy works, as an interior monologue and often, as your traditional university lecture. But no matter what style, Hall commands the stage with her calming, narrator-esque tone and somehow makes you feel like you are having a one on one conversation with her.
Video and projection artist Lindsay Cox heightens Hall's imagery through transforming it into stunning virtual 3D imagery which plays on the screens behind Hall, as well as a picture frame she holds close to her chest. My favourite image was the projection of a horse above her heart in the final chapter and watching it fly away at the closing of the piece. It was both a beautiful and haunting image which left me wondering as to whether the entire performance was about justifying a personal heartbreak.
But alongside investigating the very definitions of men through an array of psychologies, chief theorists and published works, the piece additionally explores the very definition of performance and what the notion of performance has evolved to in our contemporary, post-dramatic world.
This piece is brutally honest and Hall truly bares her soul on stage each night. Whether you love men or hate men, whether you're a male or a female, this is a piece that will you make think. It will make you think not only about the relationship between men and women, but will invite you to reflect on our post-dramatic world that we live in.
Ode to Man
Presented by Brisbane Festival and QUT
Performed Theatre Republic - The Loft