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Boxes of tricks leave little room to inspire

The arranging and re-arranging of large boxes explores a theme but doesn’t offer much in the way of interesting movement.


Carriageworks, January 12
Until January 16

It is intriguing to go to a freshly minted physical theatre work that Beethoven had a hand in creating. Four performers, director Patrick Nolan and guitarist Stefan Gregory used Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony as the basis of both the sound and the movement for Legs on the Wall’s Symphony, which is energised by spurts of familiar melodies.

Unfortunately, for this pair of ears, Gregory’s idea of imitating the full orchestra is turning the base notes up so loud that the sound is mind-numbingly distorted. But it doesn’t happen too often – and may well be considered a 21st-century translation of the original.

The performers work with 30 large boxes, almost up to shoulder height, which they arrange and re-arrange around the stage, at one point building a wall so tall it requires one to stand on the shoulders of another. Its patchwork design needs, and gets, precision to match a lighting pattern imposed on it later, and it is used as a screen for video imaging.

The movement of the boxes contributes to explorations of the theme – triggered by the music – of being alone or part of a community. Nonetheless, this seems to take up an inordinate amount of Symphony’s hour on stage and doesn’t offer much in the way of interesting movement.

Amy Macpherson was outstanding for her gracefully controlled gymnastic sequence. Craig Bary, Matt Cornell and Joshua Thomson each acquitted themselves well in pleasantly organic but predictable dancerly solos – Bary having been brought in less than 24 hours earlier after Rhiannon Spratling was injured the previous night.

This unexpected cast change wasn’t obvious in the smoothness of the performance, but it may have affected the dynamics, which were bland almost to the point of non-existence.

There is no program credit for a choreographer – presumably everyone is doing their own thing under Nolan’s direction – and the absence of a single driving creative force may be what makes this a pleasant enough hour but not an event that extends artistic boundaries for the performers or audience.