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Food Chain

Sydney Festival 2011 present FOOD CHAIN. Gavin Webber & Grayson Millwood (Animal farm Collective) At the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre.

Having seen the two last works of Gavin Webber and Grayson Millwood under the company banner of Splintergroup: LAWN and ROADKILL, I was duly attracted to see this work as well. FOOD CHAIN is a new work commissioned from an invitation Physical Virus Collective (pvc) in Freiburg, Germany.

“We wanted to explore the idea of animals experimenting on humans, viewing them like a David Attenborough nature documentary in reverse. And with this perspective we wanted to ponder how much ‘animal’ is left in these human beings”. The animals here are the brown bears. – two of them – beautifully realised in costume design by Moritz Muller. He is also responsible for the set design that has a substantial tree that is used athletically by the troupe throughout the piece and especially in a long and graceful slow motion “pole/tree trunk” dance at the end of the piece.

Unfortunately, like the other two pieces the work is both engrossing and sometimes boring. The work evolves like a nightmare dream state that crosses in and out of the fringes of our unconscious/ conscious contemporary cultural adventures, fears and sexual longings – a long erotic dance by one of the performers with the draped head of a hairy bear particularly mesmerizing in its Freudian alarm bells. But just as true, other sequences, seemed underdeveloped and/or too long. Like the ROADKILL experience, artistic editing would have given the work more consistent focus and easily more coherence to the joins from explored idea to idea.

It is however, the wackiness of most of the scenarios that does keeps one attentive, alongside a total absorption in the truly amazing physical techniques of the performers: Kate Harman, Grayson Millwood, Gabrielle Nankivell, Tommy Noonan, Joshua Thomson and Gavin Webber.

The soundscape and design by Luke Smiles is a strong ally to the work.

Like their other work, fascinating and tantalising, but, still unruly and poorly constructed as a whole. Still I am glad to have invested in the night out and I certainly encouraged other friends who like physical theatre with an edge of spookiness and sexual teasing to go. I hope the company refine this work to a more stream-lined perfection. I would love to see it again and look forward to their next exploration.

P.S. I felt this Sydney Festival 2011 lacked any real status as an event of great worth this year. The brochure offerings were not very exciting or inviting. The pieces I chose to see were satisfactory, but has my world rocked or changed from the availability of it being here in Sydney?: NO. Past years have. No need to stay in Sydney or get back to it for the January break if this program represents the highlights of World Cultural Events. The Sydney Biennial was a hundred times more provocative and thrilling. I went twice for two days. Pity about this year’s Festival program – ah, well I read a lot instead and saved some money.