fringe: gareth hart - ellipsis

ellipsisThankfully I already knew that on entering Gareth Hart's Ellipsis you are presented with a pair of wireless headphones and a cup of green tea... because, really, it's not how you expect to be greeted at a dance performance.

But then there's very little of the expected about Ellipsis.

Even the promotional image for the show and the original description from the Guide that talks about it being "performed inside a delicately shifting web of filament" isn't exactly what you get... there's filaments... around three sides of a cube... but there's no entanglement and not really very much shifting.

I also expected, given that the space uses a number of microphones to amplify every sound Hart makes as he moves within the confines of the cube... but over the top of that there's music. At points the music actually becomes intrusive... I just wanted to hear the sounds he was making with his body rather than an additional layer of sound.

Oddly, there is yet another layer of sound mixed in there too... because the microphones are so sensitive, any noise that the audience makes, any noise of traffic from outside (there was a rather loud motorcycle at one stage) is mixed into the soundtrack.

Which I thought would bug me... but, in truth the music kind of bugged me more.

Then there's the dance... or movement... I'm not completely sure I even know the words for what it was. But if Carnally, Where Do We Go From Here was avant-garde dance and last year's Mothlight was circus as performance art, then I think Ellipsis may well be their bastard lovechild.

Which isn't to say that it wasn't executed beautifully... especially the initial section which put me very much in mind of both a geisha and a crane (the bird, not the construction equipment) all at the same time. And it was evident how controlled some of the movements were, both as pieces of movement in themselves, as well as getting the maximum amount of sound from them without making it unnatural.

Also seemingly out of place and definitely taking the audience to somewhere quite odd was the point at which Hart left the cube and went to one of the microphones and breathed into everyone's ears. It was oddly sexual in a way... I've had that kind of exerted breathing in my ear before... but it's usually in the aftermath of something sexual, and it was slightly odd to recall that particular memory in the middle of a Fringe show. But at least that made slightly more sense than the piece of text that came afterwards... something about a woman and her left foot...

Overall, I came out of it not being completely sure what the hell I'd just witnessed. And given that the rest of the audience also sat there in silence with their headphones still on after Hart had left the stage, I don't think I was the only one.

It's another one to file in the "I don't know what the hell that was... but it had it's moments" category.

Although I still don't know what the deal was with the green tea...

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