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Side To One

Melanie Burge

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL CENTRE: Lisa Griffiths and Craig Bary present a new dance work which is by turns movingly lyrical, gently amusing, and starkly sexy
Side To One
The triumphant culmination of a five-year creative process, in Side To One Lisa Griffiths and Craig Bary present a new dance work which is by turns movingly lyrical, gently amusing, and starkly sexy; and is technically excellent throughout.

The audience interprets the three scenes as representing phases of a relationship’s evolution: playful flirtation, harmonious intimacy, and the frustration of eventual growing apart (although the work does conclude with what we see as resolution).

In the production notes, the choreographer-dancers speak trying to move ‘as if inside one layer of skin’. Throughout the performance, Griffiths and Bary demonstrate a mesmerizing familiarity with each others’ bodies and a unity of movement which at times makes them appear as if they are truly moving as one.

The lightbox set is visually impressive and technically innovative, used as an internally illuminated performance platform; a canvas for Jason Lam and Adam Synnott’s projection; and a structure through which the dancers tumble and crawl, suggesting, alternately, the cosily secure and bewilderingly labyrinthine dimensions of a committed relationship. The set does seem to exist somewhat anomalously within the black shell of the Space Theatre, though (and leaves the dancers incongruously exposed while not performing).

While the first scene at times teeters on the edge of being over-laden with inventive visual and audio effects (which are impressive, but sometimes distract from rather than adding to the performance), the second scene allows the audience to focus on the beautiful fluidity of the dancers’ movement. The third scene achieves a great balance between a filmic atmosphere and the immediacy of bodies moving onstage.

Costumes are simple yet extraordinarily effective: a large baggy jumper becomes literally a skin they can both move inside; the poignant second scene has them dressed exactly alike and their movement technique suggests mobile spooning more than anything else. The third scene, in which they appear emphatically as ‘Him’ versus ‘Her’, demonstrates the distance that has grown them as they struggle to express their individuality while yearning to regain the perfect harmony of earlier times.

Side To One has subtlety without being overly ambiguous, and is ambitious, yet without a scrap of pretension.

Rating: 4 stars

Side To One
Choreographed and Performed by Lisa Griffiths and Craig Bary
Sound & Interactive Design by Adam Synnott
Lighting Design by Ben Flett
Projection Design by Jason Lam
Costume & Set Design by Lisa Griffiths, Craig Bary and Adam Synnott
Dramaturgy by Josh Tyler

Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
July 27 – 30

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Melanie Burge is the program coordinator for the inaugural Adelaide arts and sustainability festival WOMAD Earth Station. She has enjoyed working and partying on a range of cross-arts festivals, including Adelaide Fringe, Brisbane Festival, Ten Days On The Island, WOMADelaide, Christchurch Arts Festival, Prague Fringe, Sydney Festival, Melbourne Fringe and Brighton Fringe. These have afforded her many memorable experiences, including managing an inflatable ice skating rink, dodging roadkill on Bruny Island, and having dinner with Kamahl.

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