BWW Review: DEATH THROES at The Blue Room
Only 90s kids will remember...
That's the line, the bait, the hook that reels the audience into Death Throes by Gillies, Croft and Lui at The Blue Room Theatre. Harriet Gillies, Julia Croft and Joe Lui fell in 'artistic love' with one another at The Blue Room some time ago and decided to collaborate on a project together. Their polyamorous collab has borne something strange and unusual, something challenging, unflinching, raw, sweaty and fun.
Death Throes unfolds in movements the way a musical composition does, each section expanding and contracting in tempo and volume to a luscious soundtrack full of beats and samples that creates an aural bubble inside of which the show plays out.
The first movement takes the form of a panel discussion, where the trio introduces the ideas and themes that they have been researching and intend to explore, which include the collectively agreed-upon illusion of money, the flux of economic systems, the notion that there's more space than matter in any given object in the universe.
It's a wonderfully meaty selection of topics to lay out before an audience, and I think I've only highlighted a small portion of what the panel puts on the table. The discussion is loosely scripted, with plenty of room for moments where they can gauge their audience and establish that we are all in the same room. A slow, quiet heartbeat-like sound quickens under their words as the discussion become more and more urgent.
A transition takes place that pulls us out of the concrete, structured world of theory and philosophy and trains our awareness slowly to the abstract using voice distortion, light and movement. This will become the format for the following sections, where words are thrown completely out the window, and light, sound and movement reign. The team make a quick change into shiny golden, flesh-revealing outfits; they pick up stage lights from the floor and begin to make themselves into living sculptures with beams and poses.
And then the race begins. The three performers begin to jog around the pink fuzzy rug that's been lying benignly centre stage, and is now the nucleus around which their bodies orbit. Two of them run in the same direction, the third in the opposite, and the pattern seems fairly constant - for a while.
And I do mean a while. Nothing much changes in this sequence for several minutes, until we audience start to squirm and glance around at each other, wondering how long this will go on. It goes on. Patterns change, bodies change direction, near misses become full-on collisions. The performers begin to fatigue and breathe more heavily, there's a faint smell of sweat rising in the room. As they tire, their movements become wilder, erratic; the pattern is breaking down. The system is breaking down. It collapses.
So the three pick themselves up from the floor after their mini-marathon and transition to the final movement. They've emerged, glistening and flushed, from the rat race and begin to rearrange the lighting, sound equipment and a couple of fans to usher in a breath of fresh air.
Make no mistake, this show runs the risk of flying right over our heads, but this is what makes good performance art. Gillies, Croft and Lui welcome the audience to come on the ride with them, and let us draw our own conclusions. They're fearless about making a performance that dances outside of convention, and have created something that has its own internal meaning.
And I'm happy to say, it's not only the 90s kids who will get it.
Death Throes runs at The Blue Room Theatre until 18 May. For tickets and more information, go to: https://blueroom.org.au/events/death-throes/