Review: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, KXT

With the evocative use of dark and noise, Director Julia Robertson allows the work to ebb and flow.
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The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Photo by Brett Boardman.

A reconceptualisation of ballad The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, this performance is a formless geography empowered with whispers of Chaplin and Lloyd. There is breathless silences drawn from Marceau and thumping, stomping shouts of Bausch. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a triumphal offering where the ballad breaks apart without the loss of the vessel. It is bold, cohesive and thrilling to encounter.     

No face is not individual and yet each expression is choreographed for a greater whole. The Little Eggs Collective has a stunningly effective performance technique. Productions such as the marvellous Pinocchio last year are developed by the company during rehearsal and rely less on a symbolic rendering than on a viscerality of intent which piques the curiosity and pulls one into the narrative. A hand moves and air is seen; only to become the whisps of mist and snow where an icy cold descends.

There’s a seam of guidance through the work. A mentorship of beauty and terror in the search for redemption. Using a discreet tiller and with the evocative use of dark and noise, Director Julia Robertson allows the work to ebb and flow, mysterious, profane and engrossing. 

The comedy is tender and the silliness poignant as the ensemble take the audience gently and deliver them to the nightmarish fever of the cross-bowed slayer. As the wrecked and landlocked seaman, Nicholas Papademetriou wields a wounded stick with the abstracted grace of crazy and he is surrounded by the silhouettes of his guilt.  

The audio is mastered with distinction and operated to perfection. Being in the room gives the rare technical simplicity of correct levels. The operator has the power to mix, not for volume, but for the feel of the wind through the feet as the palpable fear traps the performers. A glancing blow of blue, but white on black is the lighting motif. The cast is souwestered in uniform black which they cast off to reveal the white below and that white visible in the many darknesses and tungsten tinged low states. And a very clever burn of sun to dry the mouth and crack the lips.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is uniquely created and a slyly constructed to respect and reveal. It is a mighty immersion in great works.

5 stars ★★★★★
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 

Devised and composed by The Little Eggs Collective.
Director: Julia Robertson
With: Lloyd Allison-Young, Mathew Lee, Nicholas Papademetriou, Nicole Pingon, Callan Purcell, Annie Stafford, Grace Stamnas, Mike Ugo, Laura Wilson
Design: Nick Fry

3-13 April 2019
Kings Cross Theatre, Sydney

Judith Greenaway
About the Author
Judith grew up as a theatre brat with parents who were jobbing actors and singers. She has now retired from a lifetime of teaching and theatre work with companies small and large and spends evenings exploring the wealth of indie and professional theatre available in Sydney.