The Operation of the Sun in the Garden at the End of the WorldReviewed by Lorraine Ward
Click for big version
The Operation of the Sun in
the Garden at the End of the World
Part 1: The Victorians
Ake Ake Theatre Company
Studio 77, Victoria University, 77 Fairlie Terrace
24, 25, 28 February; 1, 2, 3 March 8pm; 26 February 6pm
$16 / $12 / $10 / $8
We enter Studio 77 in the stillness of a Kelburn evening. There is a black stage, decorated with stones and driftwood. There is softly lit gauze at the back of the stage, and white sails that also act as screens for the shadow puppets.
I am feeling intimidated. The program notes have made so little sense to me that I am not sure if I am worthy of being in this audience.
the shadow puppet MC appears to explain that there are four
levels of depth in this show.
2. Allusion (which only the elite will comprehend)
I decide that I'm at level 1.75, plus or minus the square root of pi, and settle in to enjoy the performance. It is impossible to feel intimidated by Marmaduke and his pompous oratory.
The Shadow Dancer (Rhys Latton) dominates the main stage, with dance that echoes the rolling ebb and flow of the ocean. Behind the gauze the Victorian (Jessica Sutherland) lives in a world of lists - list of colours, herbs, clothes for a journey. Her music is that of order - the chiming of a clock, the ticking of a metronome.
The imagery is beautiful. Books become butterflies or symbols of balance. Driftwood becomes a pair of dancing shorebirds.
Marmaduke as MC, accompanied by other shadow puppets and by shadow bones, tells an ancient story celebrating the death and alchemical resurrection of a king, causing great joy and mirth among the audience.
For the finale the Victorian comes out from behind her gauze curtain, disembarking from a boat onto an unknown shore at the same time. She and the Stone Dancer unite for the hypnotic Dance of the Heavenly Androgyne, to beautiful pulsating music.