Review by Laura Money
Parkour collides with the Big Top in this unique combination of electronic music and circus. Undertone uses live triggering on a looping machine to create temporal soundscapes from the performance it’s influencing. Confusing? Well, it’s not as complex as it sounds.
Five performers enter the big top – four experts in movement and dance, one DJ extraordinaire. They have a hipster vibe in their 20 shades of grey, top knots, facial hair and quirky tattoos. The DJ attends a comprehensive electronic music system, creating sounds from ambient noise and looping that into an urban soundscape. The others stand at a corner each of a table-tennis table, hitting different parts in a syncopation that seems random, until you realise that the DJ is picking all of it up. They are having fun, grinning at each other in playful jest. This could be anywhere – your garage, someone’s rumpus room, a community centre. They could be any group of friends – until they start to manipulate the space in front of them with their bodies.
The young adults pommel their way over and under each other using the surface of the tennis-table as an anchor. They move in perfect synchronisation – one false move and they’d be colliding with each other. The whole thing has a Parkour vibe to it – almost like seeing a live rendition of the phenomenon which uses peoples bodies twisted and present to create different meanings to the standard ‘negative’ spaces of our world. Ping-pong balls are supposed to bounce on the surface of a table-tennis table – not people. By using their bodies, the Undertone crew essentially re-write the relationship between physical space, convention, time and aesthetics.
There are hilarious sketches, including a camp interpretation of a table-tennis match. Despite using the table as it was originally intended, the crew are able to gently tease the mainstream phenomenon with a kitsch representation of tennis-wear, competitive spirit, and the ineffable coolness of leisure. There are more conventional circus-acts such as ropes, straps, poles, and tumbling, even juggling but these are all tackled in a fresh, urban way – they are so talented it almost looks like you could give it a try yourself, next time you’re at the local part. But don’t be fooled – it takes immense training and skill to make what you do look effortless.
When: 11 – 17 February 2016 (6pm)
Where: Big Top, Pleasure Gardens, Northbridge, PERTH
Tickets: $16 – $28
Info: Duration 55 minutes, Suitable all ages