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BWW Review: CLOUD CUCKOOLAND: A STORY ABOUT DEATH

Ballet, Belly Dance... birds? Desert Sin's latest production Cloud Cuckooland: A Story About Death is a multimedia mélange of music, dance, puppetry and aerial arts with sprinklings of spoken word all set against a backdrop of constantly shifting projections.

The chaotically beautiful way in which these elements are combined creates an atmosphere of delirium, a fitting manifestation of the psyche of the girl who has just died.

Upon her death the protagonist is offered a chance to be the queen of the birds at the expense of her heart, the last defining aspect of her humanity, which she gives up willingly at first only to regret her choice later.

However, the overarching themes of death and transformation are easy to forget in a world where childlike whimsy and colorful spectacle are ever present to seduce viewers away from such matters.

The work was an ambitious array of fantastical creatures anthropomorphized through various artistic disciplines: graceful figures in hoops undulating or writhing over the audience, flamingo marionettes observing beasts in the waterworld below them, chorus-corvids hopping and singing as they guide the protagonist through the Aristophanian bird kingdom.

While the plot itself was fairly simplistic in true fairytale fashion, it was deeply symbolic for the show's creator Djahari Clark who was inspired by her own experiences of "death, near-death, heartbreak and loss of hope."

"It is about choosing to close off your heart because we fear loss and pain and how we die inside when we shut ourselves down," said Clark. "In the end it is about transformation; turning inside oneself and coming to terms with our fears, then choosing to open up, be vulnerable and live to our full potential."


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