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concrete heartbeat image

Review by Laura Money

Edgy, contemporary and full of slick sick beats, CONCRETE: heartbeat really amplifies the pulse of city life. It could be any city – they’re all the same. Following on from successful shows in Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney kdmindindustries bring their mixture of Def-jam soundscapes and visual aesthetics inspired by graphic novels to Perth. Created and performed by the talented Mark Haslam what you get is a punch in the guts to all senses.

The performance space is tiny – a small room in the heritage listed Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. There is a single microphone stand, and blue milk crates seemingly stacked at random. A large projected image fills the corner of the room – CONCRETE: heartbeat. The milk crate motif even stretches to the seating as the audience file in and perch somewhat uncomfortably on cushioned milk crates. This is truly an immersive experience.

A large countdown appears and stops at 6:20am. Two words fill the wall: THE NURSE. So begins Haslan’s rendition of the nurse’s story. The beauty of a large city unfolds in each person’s story as if each person’s perspective adds to the pages of an ever-expanding book. Each vignette is full of energy, noise, manic passion, and sometimes is imbued with a sense of sadness. The time dictates the tone and Haslan is able to slow down or speed up his performance based on the person whose story he is telling. Haslan doesn’t act as the character – rather he is a conduit for their story. For within each tale or perspective is the pulsing character of the city itself. This is the city’s story just as much as the people’s.

Through the creative images of street scenes, people, thought bubbles, text messages and even a dive bar for cockroaches all developed by Melvin Montalban the city comes alive as it is obvious that it in actual fact, is always awake. Upbeat, clever, funny and moving this show will get into your veins just like the concrete that will get into your minds.

CONCRETE: heartbeat is playing at PICA as part of FRINGEWORLD 2015 from 5th – 14th February.