One of the best shows I almost saw

Image: Zan Wimberley

Many companies have pithy names which have been meticulously chosen to sum up who they are and what they do. We in turn have a preconceived idea about what’s on offer. Consider Chunky Move, which prompts me to think of phat beats and a movement vocabulary that is up-to-the-minute contagious, or Branch Nebula, evoking images of the brain reaching deep into its recesses, for an unusual response/perspective. I think of Dirtyfeet, a company with a name I still covet, which instantly reminds me of stomping on hard red soil, watching the residual dust disperse and infiltrate everything, like the imagined quintessential Australian psyche.

Great expectation was replaced by bummed out disappointment when Byron Perry’s latest work Obscura was cancelled due to inclement weather. The irony lay in the fact that it was an act of force majeure which forced the work to a standstill. Yet strangely enough, it reinforced the presenting company’s namesake and kept my thoughts engaged because of the failure to launch.

When I think of Force Majeure I think of the epic tale, and my emotions being manipulated. I equate the superior force with the emotional gravitas involved in the topic, and Kate Champion’s ability to gauge the tide of social sentiment.

I was curious to see how this work, with its mechanical instigation, would move me.  Would this work live up to the motto it was presented under?

By taking a chance, taking a risk against the elemental forces, Byron Perry’s non-event epitomised the company ethos. I was expecting to see a show and instead I experienced disappointment, observed, appreciated and felt the impact of the irony and am still contemplating the relevance of the company’s namesake in this context.

Instead I am confronted by the realisation that the elemental forces trump everything, that human will, no matter how strong, is at their mercy, and the real risk is taking a chance that they (the forces) will be with you.

I am reminded of the 1970s documentary Waiting for Fidel which was to feature Fidel Castro but in fact revealed more about Cuba because of what was filmed instead of the starring interview.  Or of Terry Gilliam’s film Lost in la Mancha, a documentary that was supposed to be about the making of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and which became a chronicle of its failure to be made.

Verdict, Obscura, one of the best shows I almost saw.

– by Vicki Van Hout