The West

Chrissie Parrott. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

Chrissie Parrott and Jonathan Mustard
Chrissie Parrott Arts Space

Approaching the Chrissie Parrott Arts Space in Maylands I was charmed. This warehouse space has been transformed for the Cicada Club season, which includes three short works by Chrissie Parrott and Jonathan Mustard. I could see an assortment of armchairs, sofas and poufs, suffused in a pinkish light. With vintage lamps and light fittings, and a bar selling pomegranate royale cocktails and red velvet cupcakes, the quirky setting reminded me of Parrott and Mustard's 2009 work, The Garden. This sense of deja vu was to recur later in the evening.

Opening the show was a solo called Miss Petal's Ode to Isadora, danced by Rhiannon Newton. A forest-like image is projected on to the backdrop and layers of gauze that hang from roof to floor, and cicadas chirp as Newton emerges on to the stage. The cicadas give way to a whispered soundscape as Newton navigates the space. Clad in a Grecian-style, sheer black dress, she moves with a panther-like stealth.

The second work on the program, Kween, is intended to be performed outdoors but inclement weather saw it relocated inside. Composed of a film featuring Floeur Alder, Jacqui Claus and Heather McLachlan, followed by a live solo by Claus, Kween, again, put me in the mind of The Garden. The three dancers in the film are costumed to look like queens, perhaps from the medieval period. Often they appear as one, the shot morphing one dancer into another, other times they are ghostly. It's all a bit nonsensical. This may be intentional but I felt I was missing something.

Claus' solo is similarly strange. There appears to be a theme of madness - she seems trapped within her own body, madly gesturing to the audience. The twitchy brittleness of this solo is almost insect-like. Claus dances with a fragile restraint that could fracture at any moment. While she performed with her trademark panache, I found the solo and its accompanying film oddly dissatisfying and wonder if it all would have made more sense in the intended location.

For the third work, Illuminated Forest, the audience moves to a second section of the warehouse. The stage here is so deep and dimly lit that it appears to have no backdrop, rather like the set of Parrott's mid-90s production of Tower in the old Boans Warehouse. The similarities to previous works don't end there. With its projections of avatars and computer-data-inspired imagery on to multi-layered transparent drops, the design of Illuminated Forest feels a little like Parrott and Mustard's Metadance (2008).

There's no doubting the effectiveness of the design. The layers of fabric through the space give the projections a three- dimensionality, while the dancers become a moving canvas. This was probably exacerbated by the fact that the uninsulated warehouse was, by now, rather chilly. That said, the movement is created by the dancers - Alder, Claus, Laura Boynes, Kynan Hughes and Katya Svetsov - so there is a distinct point of difference in that respect.

All performers are noteworthy but a highlight is a duo performed by Alder and Hughes. Her small but incessant force is beautifully countered by his calm, fluid manoeuvres. I am a big fan of Parrott and Mustard but I felt some elements of this program didn't quite hit the mark. There are, however, some excellent performances that are worth a look.

The West Australian

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