There are very few opportunities in Adelaide to produce new works on the mainstage… and of those few that do arise, Brink Productions is at the forefront, charging ahead to bring Adelaide (and the world) something fresh and hopefully memorable.
The latest fruits of this small company’s labour are a collaboration with award-winning playwright Nicki Bloom. Set in the round, in the chilly and cavernous Queen’s Theatre, Land & Sea is an intimate yet expansive piece stretched across land and space, at times feeling epic, other times wound tightly in on itself.
Both Bloom and Director, Chris Drummond as well as a team of artists and collaborators have taken the germ of an idea to present theatre “that in some sense might be experienced like a kind of living theatrical Escher painting” and toyed with the concept of “strange loops”. The thing with Escher is… we may appreciate it for what it is and understand the artistic value, but we don’t always necessarily understand the content.
Land & Sea is seemingly wide open to the interpretation of the viewer, and perhaps this reviewer’s view of the production will be different to the next audience member’s. It is a series of vignettes, depicting life (death, rebirth, and more) in all its weird and wonderful quirkiness. While each vignette stands alone, they are at the same time intertwined and referential to each other.
The superb ensemble cast includes Rory Walker, Danielle Catanzariti, Jacqy Phillips, Thomas Conroy and Hilary Kleinig (musician and musical director). Each performer brings a unique element to the performance. Phillips’ background in folk singing/performance is evident in her strong, guttural renditions of folk titles, while Conroy’s more classical training rings beautifully through the rafters of the Queen’s. Catanzariti is adorable, wide-eyed and mesmerising in her child-like portrayal. Walker holds a stillness on stage that can be both fragile and intimidating.
As much a member of the performing cast as a character of her own, Kleinig fills these strange looping worlds with a soundscape reminiscent of a film score on piano and cello. Immersed in these sounds, on the edge of Wendy Todd’s beautiful sandy desert island, you can almost smell the sea air and feel the grit of the sand. Todd’s choices in layout and the use of space demonstrates a fantastic partnership with the piece that enhances the concept of traversing space and time.
Land & Sea is a good example of a new work that utilises all the elements of the live theatre experience, washing its audience away to somewhere where comprehension is not required, merely an encounter of sensory immersion.