Lobsters - Borderline Arts Ensemble
26 October 2017, Circa Theatre, Wellington
Reviewed by Kimberley Young
Borderline Arts Ensemble presented their premiere season of Lobsters, at Wellington’s Circa Theatre from October 21 until November 4. Borderline Arts Ensemble was formed by dancer and choreographer Lucy Marinkovich in 2015. The company is described as ‘a performing arts collective with a focus on creating projects that involve dance, music, film, masks, props, collaboration, experimentation and research’. The hour length show seemed to involve all of these aspects (aside from film) and was performed by collaborators: Lucien Johnson, Lucy Marinkovich, Carmel McGlone, Matthew Moore and Emmanuel Reynaud.
Each collaborator was captivating, due to their incredible performance quality. But to be frank, I didn’t understand what was happening and was confused for most part of the performance. There was a cooking demonstration, beaten egg whites and cake smeared onto faces, fake hands were used in a dance sequence, and giant glittery cards with fruit on them were held up by McGlone as she was pushed across the stage on a wheeled table. Perhaps it was just me unable to grasp many of the concepts due to my own restricted understanding. Or perhaps that was the point, to not understand and simply enter an imaginative world exploring many unexpected juxtapositions. After all it was a dive into the surrealist world, particularly that of an imagined lobster.
It was only after the show I had the chance to research more into surrealism and Dali’s Lobster Telephone; then re-reading the programme notes some of the dots started to connect.
Co-directed by Lucy Marinkovich and Miranda Manasiadis, Lobsters was inspired by one of Salvador Dali’s popular surrealist objects the Lobster Telephone. Dali’s work often drew a close relationship between food and sex, coupled with his surrealist approach; these ideas were unquestionably transposed onto Lobsters.
Dancers Marinkovich, Moore and Reynaud displayed the search for love and intimate relationships. Through various solos, duets and group work, the audience witnessed the struggle and longing humans have for human touch, connection, perfection and love, as well as the hurt that can come from this pursuit. At the beginning of the show the movements were composed, sharp and structured but as the work progressed, it became strained, tense, panicky, and abandoned yet graceful movement. Throughout the show there was falling, abstract gestures, impressive directional changes, lovely spatial awareness and synergy.
The music directed and composed by Johnson was the highlight of the night. He was an impressive figure, accompanying the performers playing his many instruments. Another highlight was McGlone who portrayed the Lobster or, as the programme described, Dali’s ‘discarded muse’. She wore an elegant, sparkling red dress and throughout the show, charismatically and randomly entertained through song, spoken word, dialogue with the audience, theatrics and piano-playing.
The collaborators were entertaining and had high technical ability. I question if there were too many ideas and unnecessary props because as earlier mentioned, I couldn’t make sense of what was happening, but again perhaps that was the point.