Performer–composer–singer–writer Zulya Kamalova’s Evolution, Revolution and the Mail Order Bride is three stories about three women that explore how the suppression of the feminine affects evolution, a revolution and a mail order bride.
Kamalova is a remarkable talent. Her voice is like an indulgent homemade caramel that no one can say no to, she lets her characters be their unique selves, and her music made me feel a bit like it was the 1920s and she was contemporary of Kurt Weill. Her composition is more personal and broader in style to Weill (and she writes her own lyrics), but he was the first composer I thought of when I heard her four piece orchestra (Erkki Veltheim, Charlotte Jacke, Justin Marshall and Donald Stewart).
Director Maude Davey has brought as much meaning as possible to the piece by working with a complex design (Adrienne Chisholm) that sprawls around the fortyfive downstairs carven like a lost op shop in a forest and creates some mesmerising visuals with projections (Michael Carmody) and lighting (Katie Sfetkidis), but, for all that is beautiful and complex about it, there’s little sense of story in the interwoven lives.
Telling us what happened isn’t a story. Telling us what you believe isn’t a story. This work seems so intent on being a lesson (that’s explained on the poster and told to people who are already on side,) that it’s difficult to find a way to care about and connect to the characters and their lives because their plot is so controlled.
Kamalova enchants with her songs and music, but maybe there’s enough character, emotion and heart in every song to share what needs to be told without the explanatory monologues.