Her Majesty’s Theatre, Wed 7 Sep.
Pilobolus has spent the last forty-five years entertaining audiences across the globe with their special blend of light, shade and choreographic imagery that eschew notions of traditional dance techniques. Shadowland is a fusion of shadow art, dance, theatre, multimedia and sound (set to an original score by American composer David Poe) that uses all of the above to play with the concept of light and shadow as a powerful transformer of ideas and experiences.
Following a surreal narrative, written in collaboration with SpongeBob Square Pants lead writer Steven Banks, Shadowland is the dreamscape of a teenage girl who desires to grow up, even as her parents lament the passing of her childhood. She enters a strange new world where – like most dreams – the impossible seems likely and nothing is ever as it seems.
The Pilobolus troupe performs both in front of and behind a series of screens of varied shapes and sizes, creating visual images that are seriously amazing in their complexity. Yet while the shadow work is indeed remarkable and beautifully layered with lighting effects that help to sustain the narrative, it is actually when the performers are front-of-screen that the real magic happens. The dancing itself is otherworldly; graceful flows of movement are created as bodies move sinuously across the stage – and each other – in a celebration of human movement that seems even to defy gravity at times. The skill and strength of the dancers is captivating as they bear each other’s weight to form the illusion of a floaty world where dreams and imaginings entwine.
This is not to say that the shadow work was anything less than outstanding, however on its own would have made for a very long hour and a half. The fact is a work of this length needed the depth provided by those wonderful dance sequences which two dimensional shadow imagery alone cannot provide. In all, Shadowland propels the audience into a fascinating and ethereal landscape that does exactly as one imagines – entertains.
Rosie van Heerde
Shadowland continues at Her Majesty’s Theatre, at various times, until Sun 11 Sep.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
All images courtesy of Emmanuel Donny
Except the girl and shadow image, courtesy of John Kane