Performance review: idk, Carriageworks

A beguiling show exploring boundaries with three performers in a dance narrative.

While I walked into Carriageworks, Redfern’s railway yard turned performance venue, I have to admit that perhaps I was expecting to see something a little different than what Force Majeure delivered. Established in 2002, the movement-based performance group has been creating original, devised work, and tackling contemporary issues that other theatre companies may be uncomfortable facing. The vague promotional blurb and comfortless poster on the website also didn’t help me decipher what to expect, indicating a vague thematic concern of ‘the private and public territories of the body’. Suddenly I was conjuring visions of the night ahead, full of dreary melodrama and grim provocations.

I’m pleased to report, however, that director Danielle Micich and her trio of dedicated performers had created something far more exciting, creative and outrageous than what their marketing may have indicated. idk could be described as an absurdist ethnography that balanced an emotional intelligence with tender sensuality and comic situations. The performers (Gabriel Comerford, Adriane Daff, Merlynn Tong) all committed to the expressive, complex physicality that drove much of the action and brought the audience on the journey alongside them.

Although idk was unafraid to go to dark places, the creative team understood issues of the body are multifaceted, and exist as shades of grey, not black and white. Sometimes, the tone of a certain vignette could mean different things for different audience members. One such scene featured an actor in a life-size teddy bear suit, singing a song about losing her best friend (a child who has moved on to school, where bringing a teddy bear with them is seemingly uncool). It was a sequence I found surprisingly moving and resonant, whereas other audience members were laughing along. After all, the theatre is a democratic space, and these creatives and performers are open to all kinds of responses. 

Other highlights included the innovative use of live video projection, which was constructed as a large rectangle, reminiscent of smartphones. Certain moments called for performers to lie on the floor, looking up at a camera hidden in the ceiling.

Another moment had a camera fitted within the nose of the aforementioned teddy bear suit, which was projected as a circle onto the rectangle screen. These moments indicated that the production was not merely interested in the physical spaces of consent, but also the post-human and technological ways our spaces can be disrupted and altered. 

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idk was an engaging and innovative performance piece that took the audience on a journey through the mind and body; you just had to be open and willing to go with them.

idk, Force Majeure

Director: Danielle Micich
Set and Costume Designer: Anna Tregloan
Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper
Sound Designer: Angus McGrath
Production Dramaturg: Tessa Leong
Text Dramaturg: Merlynn Tong

Understudy: Josh Price
Production Manager: Damion Holling
Stage Manager: Tanya Leach
Production Electrician and Programmer: Jasmine Rizk
Sound/AV Consultant and Technician: Phil Downing
Sound Support: Kingsley Reeve
Costume Maker: Christine Mutton
Performers: Gabriel Comerford, Adriane Daff, Merlynn Tong

idk was performed in Sydney from 23-26 August and will tour to Melbourne from 30 August to 2 September 2023.

Matthew is a writer, director, actor, and critic from Newcastle. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (English Writing), and is now studying a Master of Applied Linguistics. You can find him on Instagram @matthewcollinsesq