ZENOBIA FROST reviews Under the Radar’s STILL NIGHT.
The rooftop terrace of The Point Hotel (at Kangaroo Point) seems an unlikely place for an Under the Radar performance — even more so after a couple of roadside Refidex stops. The obscurity of the venue is reflected in a modest turnout, which is a pity because Still Night deserves wider exposure: we see Brisbane in a new light, glimmering and strange.
Still Night is devised by Berlin, Nevada (Silvia Mercuriali and Gemma Brockis), a duo that trains the theatrical lens on public spaces. The 45-minute show takes the form of a lecture on Brisbane, given in a nonsensical language. This is no barrier; Mercuriali’s familiar sounds, grammar and body language — along with slides — provide sufficient translation. It is like being in a dream: although you know that the words mean nothing, you know exactly what they mean.
Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Still Night transports us to secret, forbidden places in our own city, Brisbane, as well as cities that exist “under our half-closed eyelids” and in our dreams. Those familiar with the postmodernist author’s work will recognise Calvino’s narrative tone reflected in the audio delivered via headphone. These sections, which approach guided meditation, are particularly effective. We, the audience, converse with Marco Polo in our heads — audience interaction without having to open our mouths or leave our chairs.
Even in this sterile 12th-floor conference room, Mercuriali and Brockis make striking design choices: a glowing city unfolds from a dress; a horse plays at dice; a will-o’-the-wisp draws us to her lantern. We smell the jasmine in the gardens of Kublai Khan. We feel the first cool after spring rains. And, as our city is revealed to us in a new light in a very literal sense, we finally see why this venue might be the perfect one after all.
STILL NIGHT, by BERLIN, NEVADA (Italy, UK), runs as part of Brisbane Festival’s UNDER THE RADAR Program. 8 to 11 Sep, 2012. www.brisbanefestival.com.au
ZENOBIA FROST (@zenfrost) was, until recently, the arts editor of Rave Magazine. She is a founding member of OffStreet Press and is fond of strange myths, incisive verse, theatre, graveyards, tea, and editing.