Odeon Theatre, Thu Oct 16
The Restless Dance Theatre are a talented group of individuals bought together by their love and skill in the dance and theatrical arena and their passion in creating and delivering award winning performances. Choreographed and directed by Michelle Ryan, whose career spans international stages over the past 25 years and is now the Artistic Director of Restless, their latest show In The Balance premiered in the intimate and well-attended Odean Theatre, Norwood.
A glistening party scene awaited the audience as the dancers assembled backstage to await the first notes of the beautiful rhythm guitars performed by The Audreys, a superb South Australian product. In The Balance is a collection of smaller storylines, or vignettes, within a main theme, in reaching to the audience the many of interactions between young people, and general peer behaviours. The tumultuous upheaval most of us navigate in life is beautifully played out by the ensembles, which in itself is a celebration of diversity. Restless Dance Theatre welcome people with a disability as well as able-bodied people, and the interaction between the community onstage is something quite unlike I have seen before. The company has been created with the opportunity to make available to all people to eloquently express themselves and enjoy the opportunity to excel.
In The Balance encapsulates the story and themes to four main words; flirtation, inclusion, exclusion and rejection. The Audreys’ soundtrack jumps from uplifting and dynamic blues and swampy guitars to achingly beautiful ballads with simple and subtle messages which have been perfectly teamed with each vignette.
We open with a party scene, with people collaborating and disengaging, swapping partners, taking a turn in solitude as being the odd man out, but always coming together with a sense of movement, purpose and flow. The music is energetic and the personalities are in abundance. Over the course of the show you feel intimately connected to the dancers; an affinity with perhaps one or two people that you can really connect with- rather than performing in uniform the choreography was able to allow the dancer’s movement to be themselves yet in a structured and meaningful way. ‘Desolation City’, sung by Taasha Coates and expressing the path of being both solitary as well as lonely – as the two can be of course different. It was perhaps at this point that I felt like weeping, if only for the way the performers so articulately connected with the audience.
A highlight was the flirtatious interaction between a couple; their chairs moving toward one another, until a bizarre courtship erupts which must surely be the pattern we all follow and fall back on, yet when viewing from the outside is both touching and humourous to witness. Much like proud peacocks, our dancers flirt their way through the scene and gained many a smile.
Kathryn Evans’ solo with the giant golden earth ball was calming and mesmerising to watch. As she kept beautiful time with her artistic ball handling skills, she radiated an ethereal and otherworldly beauty. She was so absolutely engaged in her performance it was hard to tear your eyes away.
A too often seen demonstration of aggression, competition, and macho behaviours was powerfully shown with a sense of wanting to step in from the seat I was holding and jumping on stage to break the fight that was being played out. Naturally it was all theatrical but nonetheless very realistic and quite difficult to watch. Another wistful and poignant moment was watching our lone female lead trying to break into a group of men; illustrating not only the group mentality and ill-used power in numbers, but also the sadness that is displayed when gender inequality is exercised; frustrating to watch yet humourous as we all see someone we know in the scene.
The beautiful thing about this show for me was the way that each performer was engaged to be highlighted in a meaningful and individual way, yet was also part of an extremely powerful group of men and women. The interaction onstage and collaborative effort was a credit to not only the artists but their choreographers and indeed the excellent musical scripting.
Evocative, raw and beautiful, we are near the end with a romantic duet between Chris Dyke and Caitie Moloney. Again, near tears, I sigh with satisfaction in regard to the excellence in expression they have displayed that many artists take such a long time to master. It was a very powerful ending to a wonderful show
by Siân Williams
Restless Dance Theatre’s In The Balance continues at Odean Theatre, Norwood, until Sat Oct 25.
Tickets available at the door or through TryBooking on www.trybooking.com.