Trying to figure out the symbolism in a piece of dance theatre isn’t always easy because we mostly have to rely on gestures and movement to work out what’s going on.
Sometimes, written material about the show can give us a hint.
So, before the opening of SOFT.co‘s Inflated Rebel, I read the playbill which said the show “probes the gendered binaries of orthodoxy and rebellion, courage and bravado, submission and humility and asks what happens why the only thing to fear is the babe itself.”
It’s a curious description and one I found almost incomprehensible. Yet upon watching the piece, I found myself transfixed and mesmerised. What unfolded was a strange, surreal, dream-like production that was deliciously odd, funny, irreverent, and beautiful.
As it unfolded, I realised I didn’t really care about the symbolism, I just wanted to be swept along and see where this quirky production with its talented performers would take me.
It began on a very spartan set. The defined ‘stage’ area was contained on three sides by large white sheets suspended from wires. The floor was covered in lumpy white fabric. The first scene began with two female dancers gingerly walking across the stage carrying a bandage-covered carpenters horse between their legs. The music was robotic, the movement equally stylised – it was magic.
Other scenes referenced sex, motherhood, the patriarchy. What impressed me was the melding of music, movement, and a series of fascinating costumes – all of them white, some seemingly made from duvets!
I would say Inflated Rebel is experimental. I don’t mean to suggest it was not up to a professional standard, rather, the creators and performers were playing with the art form to both challenge and amuse, and they certainly succeeded.
But there was one glorious moment that transcended all the others and lifted this show into a breathtaking form of high art.
To the haunting refrain of Tchaikovsky’s Hymn of the Cherubim, a single dancer emerged from the fabric floor. The entire set became a wedding gown, the back wall a veil. She nursed a symbolic baby and raged against something, perhaps everything!
This moment was inspired, raw, and searingly beautiful, and one that I am unlikely to forget.
INFLATED REBEL plays
August 11-15 2021
Loft, Q Theatre
Wed-Sat, 7pm; Sun, 5pm
Tickets: $19 – $29 (Service fees may apply)