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The Sylph


Harlos Productions presents THE SYLPH, by Jodi Rose, at the Old 505 Theatre, Eliza St, Newtown. 18 – 29 April.

THE SYLPH, a new Australian play by new-comer, Jodi Rose.

Ms Rose was a ballet dancer with the Joffrey Ballet Company and settled in Sydney in 1994, where she set up a studio for the teaching of ballet. One of her students, for over 20 years, is the actress Gertraud Ingeborg (is still!), and after a conversation realised that her teacher had an idea to write a play about a famous ballerina, Marie Taglioni, an Italian dancer of the early 1800’s. Colleen Cook came on board as Director, and together these three women worked on a one woman play that reveals the professional and personal life of ‘a superstar’ in her time – the same time, of history, as the women of  FALLEN.

As we discover, throughout the course of this play, the professionalism and personal sacrifices that Marie Taglioni had to make to achieve success and renown were as fierce and demanding then, as they are for professional artists today – one that is full of passionate dedication and the strains of what it is to be human: the demands of a merciless profession for physical perfection and the needs of a woman for love and family – the tensions between the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘ordinary’ demands of a life.

Besides meeting an artist that has, for most, disappeared into the mists of time, the magic of THE SYLPH is the witnessing of a similarly dedicated artist, Ms Ingeborg, with her profound personalisation and keen identification that translates to an almost seamless ‘possession’ of Marie, the dancer of the play. The spirit of both these unique artists in their pursuit of excellence are personified here with skill and glowing personal insight and warmth. One becomes ‘bewitched’ by Ms Ingeborg’s performance as a gentle, charm filled seduction resonating with lived ‘truths’. The performance glows like a tiny jewel under spotlight.

Ms Rose, Ingeborg and Cook have investigated and retrieved the life of a woman of the mid-nineteenth century and revealed, with their portrait of Marie Tagliani,  a complex and full creation, fulfilling what seemed to be similar creative objectives of the recent team behind the She Said Theatre venture, FALLEN. But, here, Harlos Productions, with deep research and authentic identification, both ‘historic’ and ‘contemporary’, have resulted an imaginative and authentic work of integrity and social ‘importance’.

One wishes that this jewel sat in a more beautiful ‘jewel box’ – the Design elements at the Old 505 Theatre are merely pragmatic and are an aesthetic hindrance to the full pull of this play and performance, which is obviously an act of love from the three propelling artists responsible for its arrival in the Sydney theatre landscape. (Let us hope for a theatre ‘angel’ to provide a more generous budget, to fulfil the full potential ‘magic’ of this production, that ought to have another ‘life’ – WITS, take note.)

THE SYLPH should be of interest to balletomanes, and to collectors of unique performances from independent artists, of which Ms Ingeborg is a shining and persistent example. Whether the contemporary political agency that the Women in Theatre and Screen (WITS) have set out to conscientiously fulfil in their interest in FALLEN, is at the the core of THE SLYPH’s existence, or not, this work should be, could be, at the centre of that audience’s interest, too.

It is a short season. Do Go.