06 December 2009

Review: The Oracle

The Oracle
Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Opera House
5 December 2009
Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse


I’m still holding my breath from experiencing The Oracle.

I know many people who don’t like contemporary dance. This work isn’t for you. It’s created for those who yearn to lose themselves in deeply symbolic, emotionally intense artistic indulgence.

The prolonged opening of Regis Lansac’s projections uses earthy rich browns and kaleidoscope images that distort and mirror religious icons merged with dancer Paul White’s body. Once White is on the stage, the need for the early breathing space and settling becomes clear as his astonishing performance engraves itself on your heart.

The intricacy of Meryl Tankard’s choreography shows White (who co-choreographed) as more than human physical perfection (yes, he’s hot), but leaves him lost and struggling against forces that reveal the inadequacy of strength and perfection. It’s inspired on the struggle faced by the first man to choreograph ‘The Rites of Spring’.

It’s hard to imagine the shock that Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ caused in 1913, or appreciate the influence this remarkable piece of music has had on contemporary dance. As it changed the choreographic aesthetic of the Ballets Russes, it filtered through the likes of Martha Graham and Pina Bausch, and Tankard (who danced with Bausch’s company) creates it as solo work about the human trauma and violence within a world controlled by greater powers.

Well, that’s what I understood. Although a clear narrative drives the creation, searching for the story on the stage will only detract from its impact.

This remarkable work may leave you crying without conscious reason, or evoke memories that have nothing to do with the stage story. This is exceptional theatre.



This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com

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