[Performance Poetry: Canada]
Dunstan Playhouse, Wed 25 Oct
I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron is essentially performance poetry. Ngo King Kie has put the poems of Xu Lizhi to music in a sombre, sometimes bleak, sometimes quite beautiful, presentation. Its principal focus is the slave labour experienced by thousands who work in nightmarish conditions to supply the world with our beloved phones.
Xu is one such person. His poems dictate his torment, his wretched struggle just to be able to endure his exhaustion for yet another day. Kie’s music is fascinating: it presents Luzhi’s feelings in mediated compositions on piano that evince compassion, bewilderment, and often anger. These pieces are accompanied by vocals which are plaintive, heartfelt, and questioning.
Rich in Chinese symbolism the poems don’t always translate seamlessly into English. A far more significant problem was the fact that the size of the font used on the projected slides was way too small to read comfortably – something which is easily addressed.
Sensitive stage lighting often created attractive visual tableaux to complement the sung texts, and in a deft touch of irony there are moments of prolonged silence – silences in direct contrast to the constant noise and distraction of the devices Xu works hard for us to own.
It’s a beautiful and curious theatre expressing a range of emotions, with a glimpse of an alternative philosophy or worldview embedded in its creation and delivery.
I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron’s final performance is at 7.00 pm on Thu Oct 26. Book your tickets HERE.