FRINGE TWENTY17: Topographs @ The Blue Room

By Freya Parr

Topographs is a double bill of dance theatre brought to us by a collective of young dancers and actors, primarily made up of current students and recent graduates from WAAPA. Focusing on the embodied experience of life and interiority, both pieces were a fusion of dance, text and music.

The first piece entitled fuite pt. deux focused on the exploration of the concept of a rhizome, a continuously growing underground stem, whose roots never seem to have a beginning or end. Four artists explored the sense of being, and the perceptions they hold of themselves and one another. Although the concept was gripping, the way the piece had been stitched together left the audience immensely confused. The text, which was spoken by actor Audrey Blyde, was hugely dense and philosophical, and was unsuitable for a spoken delivery. It felt as though we needed a script to accompany the performance, because the monologue was far too convoluted. It would have been far more poignant had it been simplified, or at least split up into clearer sections with simple introductory statements. It felt as though we were trying to navigate our way through a philosophy paper, having to work so hard to understand the meaning of the piece.

Despite this, the dance elements of the piece were incredibly effective, and every movement reflected the subject matter. The union between dancers Scott Galbraith and Shae Larsen was clear, and it was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. What remained problematic was that there were so many unanswered questions, without much clarity. A musician was implemented in fuite pt. deux who played the guitar at the beginning and end, but seemed to serve no purpose within the narrative.

The second piece was entitled Milk, Moonlight and featured two female dancers analysing the experiences of the modern woman. It explored how we relate to our bodies and the conflicting ways in which society perceives them. The performance utilised various mediums and styles, which explored various hard-hitting issues. Particularly effective was the use of a video, which showed in close detail various parts of the female body in a very natural way.

Unfortunately a lot of the spoken word was missed by the audience due to a lack of projection from the actors. The piece as a whole showed real potential, but lacked the punch required for a topic as important as this.

Topographs was a mixed bag. In both pieces there were issues that were left unaddressed, and although both discussed interesting concepts, I left feeling slightly disenchanted and confused. More clarity could have aided both pieces, and with development they have potential.

Topographs ran as part of Fringe World.