Friday, September 17, 2021

Intact

Intact
Performer: Olivia Hadley
Producer: Cecile Payet
Woodburn Creatives
May 26 – June 27, 2021

The declared mission of new company, Fuser Production, is “to stir the human spirit” and incite “awe, challenge and inspiration through original and compelling art” and Intact, its debut performance, is deeply engaging and awe-inspiring.

There are few words to this compelling exploration of the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Taking place on the most simple and economical of stage settings, performance area marked out by low black tables and backed by a white curtain, the audience are drawn into the overwhelming noise and confusion of full-on battle and then again into the sterility and silence of a hospital ward where all that is heard is the click and hum of medical equipment. Both the negative of war and the positive of hospitalisation are based in the machine, and within both the human body is subject and vulnerable.

The soldier, a remarkable performance by Olivia Hadley, experiences war in reality and again in dreams. In both it is a surreal struggle: choreographed movement with each gesture and step meaningful, a dance of potential death, or potential maiming. Whatever the outcome a soldier can’t escape reliving the battleground and on their return to civilian life they can feel paralysed, purposeless and without a place in the post-war world. However, the maiming can be literal as well as psychic.

Hadley wakens in a hospital ward, and awakens to what has happened as she slowly pulls back the cover to reveal what really seem like lifeless legs. She tries to re-enter her old life through phone, TV and writing a letter. But she can’t connect, as without the freedom of mobility she has lost who she was. She remembers her former life, and in a really lovely moment, she draws our attention to her feet, her toes reaching for the floor, sensitively like tendrils, one foot stroking the other. Then comes the discovery. The will can be mobilised by the spirit, and in a wonderfully balletic wheelchair few minutes she finds a new way to exist in the world. Her vulnerability becomes a strength and a way she can help others to push the limits of the possible.

Hadley was compelling as the hero, either helmeted and audaciously descending a rope or confined to a metal hospital bed expressing first anger then grief as she realises her condition. In all ways her powerful and moving performance was fully supported and given impact by lighting designer and operator Travis Kecek and sound effect designer and operator Martin Gallagher.

Congratulations to Fuser Production and devisors Cecile Payet, Emily Yalli, Sabrina Muszynski and Steve Lu who also performs as an alternate hero.

theatre@ssh.com.au

 

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