27 November 2009

Review: Structure and Sadness

Structure and Sadness
Malthouse Theatre and Lucy Guerin Inc
25 November 2009
Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse


A contemporary dance about the 1970s collapse of a bridge in Melbourne; who would have thought it! Fortunately for us, Lucy Guerin did, and if you missed Structure and Sadness at the 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival, or its various performances around the world, you’ve got until Sunday.

Words are not necessarily the best way to tell our stories. Guerin’s beautiful dance captures the emotion of a story and lets her audience breath in the hope and the pain until it is indistinguishable from their own.

Even if most who were in Melbourne in 1970 can tell you where they were when they heard about it; some under 40s might have to be told that 35 men died when the when a section of the West Gate Bridge collapsed when it was being built. This is a story that is so much a part of Melbourne, but fading into history rather than recollection. Even with instant media and an internet full of records of events, stories are still forgotten and need telling.

Guerin’s telling isn’t about facts, but a response to the momentary nature of disaster and its far-reaching effects. It is neither cringing “aussie” or alienating foreign, but connects with everyone who has seen and felt the sudden loss of life in a place where people should have been safe.

The inevitability of collapse fuels the tension, as the dancers build a sprawling timber house of cards. Their dance too is structural, but always shows the contradiction of bodies that can fluidly bend or remain rigid and strong. Despite all anticipation, the collapse is room stilling and the dance becomes more personal as the mood changes and the rebuild begins.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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