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FRINGE '04 REVIEW: Shadow Music

SHADOW MUSIC


Chair Water Air
Reviewed by Glyn Macdonald
Press Release - FRINGE '04: Shadow Music

Shadow Music casts itself nicely in that self-made genre of purely 'experimental performance'. Nestling in beside traditional and post-tech media, this polymorphous arrangement of comical shadow puppetry; haunting cello; Super 8 film; theatre and Japanese Noh-like mask dancing promises to bewilder and challenge our perceptions of real-time performance. The entire composition takes place behind several hanging screens; all characters are two-dimensional silhouettes that are backlit by way of dynamos attached to bicycles. This builds a blended montage of themes that provoke and mesmerise.

The setting is reminiscent of a hospital bed, with curtains drawn on all sides to insulate the audience as they sit pensively on the floor awaiting their treatment. A streaming menagerie of light and shadow pour from behind the screens. Films are projected directly onto the profiles from both sides and a disturbing masked character leers over the huddled spectators as they sway and pivot to take it all in.

Navigating us through these murky depths of memory and emotion is the constant tug of Francesca Mountfort's cello. As the sound refracts off the bow and slices into the strings of the cello, Tony Wyeth's bicycle pumps incandescence into the back lights in slow, heaving pulses. Tony's cranky, muttering character sparks off the whole performance by stumbling through the audience, blabbering away to himself in what appears to be a husky blend of French and Italian. He promptly strides his bike behind the main screen and impressively peddles his way through the entire landscape of the show, moodily lit by Stephen Bain and garnished with Uj Lees dance and film. John White provides some timely puppetry and violin to this homage to cycling, cello and chasing fairies through the forest.

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