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BWW Review: A Glimpse Into Metaphysical Theatre With BEYOND TIME

An air of serenity, mysticism and beauty is evoked in the U-theatre's Beyond Time. Directed by Liu Ruo-yu; choreographed and composed by Huang Chih-chun the work felt like a glimpse into other dimensions.

A single drum could become the sound of booming thunder or the image of the rising sun. The mix of recorded and live vocals was laced seamlessly into the soundscape, oscillating from laughter and song to chanting and throat singing. Meditative multimedia images, reminiscent of natural phenomena, accompanied skillful drummer-dancers who were playful or martial spirits one moment, whirling dervishes or stoic immortals the next.

However, while spiritual symbolism was abundant and the performers fulfilled their roles well, the piece seemed a bit too insular- something the audience could watch and enjoy but perhaps without the need to feel a deeper connection.

An underlying feeling of detachment seemed more apparent than passion. While this may be a noble esoteric discipline, it doesn't seem to work as well where an audience is concerned, and perhaps this is rooted in the construction of the work itself. The sights and sounds, while aesthetically pleasing, sometimes felt like little more than that. If the goal of the work was to create something beautiful, something otherworldly and yet unlikely to offend, the goal was achieved. If the goal was to lift the audience into a near-transcendent state, I personally wasn't quite lifted there.

On the other hand, watching an insular performance was a unique experience. Perhaps the presentation on stage was part of an internal practice for the performers and creators themselves, a ceremony outsiders only get to peer into. This is part of the mystique of Beyond Time. Definitely an ambitious project, I look forward to seeing more from the U-theatre.

Photo by Andrea Mohin

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