BWW Review: ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 2016: MONUMENTAL Is Intensely Thought Provoking

Reviewed by Matthew John Plummer, 4th March 2016

The first words that come to mind after witnessing Monumental, by the Canadian dance company, The Holy Body Tattoo, with choreography by Noam Gagnon and Dana Gingras, are anxiety, tension and city stress. Obviously intentional and very successful at bringing these feelings to the surface, the performance left me questioning my reason for living in the city and why so many unhappy faces spend every day living lives that inspire a work like this to tour the world and be hailed the success that it is. Why do we do it?

The curtain rises and reveals dancers dressed in what could be seen as typical office wear and quickly moving into uncomfortable movement inspired by angst, immediately setting the scene for a dynamic that starts out steady and escalates into chaos. Performers twitch, shake, clamber and crawl there way through a darkness portrayed by movement, facial expression and occasional guttural words or sounds, very effectively dragging the audience along for the journey.

The superb dancers, Caroline Gravel, Louise-Michel Jackson, Kim de Jong, Shay Kuebler, Louis-Elyan Martin, Esther Rousseau-Morin, Sovann Prom Tep, Michael Watts, Jamie Wright are complemented by a video projection, created by Dana Gingras and William Morrison adding an interactive component between the real world images and the dancers' reactions to it.

Behind the dancers, a full band, Montreal-based God Speed You! Black Emperor, play the sound track that can be both heard and felt through the body, with sound levels that fill the Adelaide Festival Theatre auditorium and mind.

Add to this lighting, by Marc Parent, and stage craft which, all together, make for a very complete experience and immersing the audience into this dark aspect of human existence in a very affecting way. Although at times it is not easy to view what is played out on stage, that is an important part of why this work is so profoundly hard hitting, as we are forced to look deep inside us and ask questions of ourselves that, perhaps have been asked before, but not this way, with this level of conviction and commitment as we are undeniably lead to once again check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Watch the preview below.

and why so many unhappy faces spend every day living lives that inspire a work like this to tour the world and be hailed the success that it is. Why do we do it?

The curtain rises and reveals dancers dressed in what could be seen as typical office wear and quickly moving into uncomfortable movement inspired by angst, immediately setting the scene for a dynamic that starts out steady and escalates into chaos. Performers twitch, shake, clamber and crawl their way through a darkness portrayed by movement, facial expression and occasional guttural words or sounds, very effectively dragging the audience along for the journey.

The superb dancers, Caroline Gravel, Louise-Michel Jackson, Kim de Jong, Shay Kuebler, Louis-Elyan Martin, Esther Rousseau-Morin, Sovann Prom Tep, Michael Watts, Jamie Wright are complemented by a video projection, created by Dana Gingras and William Morrison adding an interactive component between the real world images and the dancers' reactions to it.

Behind the dancers, a full band, Montreal-based God Speed You! Black Emperor, play the soundtrack that can be both heard and felt through the body, with sound levels that fill the Adelaide Festival Theatre auditorium and mind.

Add to this lighting, by Marc Parent, and stagecraft which, all together, make for a complete experience, immersing the audience into this dark aspect of human existence in a very affecting way. Although at times it is not easy to view what is played out on stage, that is an important part of why this work is so profoundly hard hitting, as we are forced to look deep inside us and ask questions of ourselves that, perhaps have been asked before, but not this way, with this level of conviction and commitment as we are undeniably lead to once again check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Watch the preview below.

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