I passed HSC level Drama with a dynamic collection of facial expressions, an eye for close reading, a basic knowledge of Stanislavski and an absolute lack of comfort and capability in physical expression. Physical movement has never been my forte, but it has also never been my focus. Little Eggs leaves an audience unable to excuse that negligence.
In their debut, self-titled production, the collective has devised a vibrant show with a valuable lesson. As Britt, Robertson and Howell have demonstrated, you don’t have to be a dancer to use your body.
Georgia is a trained dancer. Julia is not. But both perform the masked routine with equal confidence, form and grace. They are a spectacular team, entertaining a delighted audience who cheered, giggled and quietened as they somersaulted, whirled and struggled. No aspect of the anatomy is ignored. Lips twitch into forced smiles, necks roll in synchronisation, eyelids blink in slow motion, limbs shudder with exhaustion (no doubt genuine by the end of the show) and fingers commandeer the rest of the body, launching a chase that tugs and flings their owners into collisions with walls, pillars and each other.
And no one speaks.
The body is animated and re-imagined. It is a breath of fresh air for SUDS.
Robertson, as well as performing, has crafted a striking and functional set – a stark white canvas in the black box Cellar Theatre. The stage at first glance evokes bland variations of ‘Performance Art Installations’ where projection, repetitive movement and abstract sounds encompass a vague ‘artistic experience.’ Thankfully lighting, designed by Howell, lifted and shifted the atmosphere, as good lighting should, complimenting the constantly evolving soundscape (which includes a wonderful poem by Charlie O’Grady, read by Finn Davis, and a melody by Caitlin West.).
They have stayed true to their aim. Namely: “To be a non-linear exploration of varying physical capabilities in expression,” however I am not entirely convinced that being driven by such a fixed aim served the production as an overall experience. It certainly supported the physical expression, however at times it felt like the anti-narrative intention was forcing the piece to work against itself. Each time the energy and cohesion began to be established the style and atmosphere would change, disrupting anything definite from developing. The glimmer of a character would submerge, an unfolding relationship would disappear – and it was at such points where I recognised a familiar situation or emotion that I felt most drawn in by the performance. Instead of allowing the scenes to blend with and emerge from one another, they were recycling an amorphous idea in a variety of styles. The final image of the two girls in a foetal position, cornered by the spotlight, staring terrified at the audience, backs pressed against the pillars with masks clutched in their hands felt like the climactic finale to a story I couldn’t quite recall– and I felt at a loss because of it. I don’t mean to suggest that a production requires a narrative like a body requires a spine but, rather, I wonder whether this performance specifically has distinctive characters and tales of its own that are hovering around the edges; elephants of the white canvas that could have been more readily embraced and explored. In short: the piece was unresolved; Did it have a message? Did it have a form? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The Eggs team, has expressed a hope to develop the transitions and cohesion of the production for its renewal in O-Week – whether that involves a shift away from or towards narrative. The pair emphasised their immense terror on opening night – the pressure, uncertainty and anxiety at communicating with an audience for an hour with nothing but physical expression – and trying not to look ‘silly’. They took the kind of risk that we can afford to take more often.
“Be fearless,” they demanded, as they refined their fitness, re-discovered the potential of their bodies and produced a compelling work that provoked me to reassess the importance of the physical.
I will follow their fearless lead.
Photo credit: Chris Howell