No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Thoughts: These are the People in your Neighbourhood

I first came across the work of Canadian performance company Mammalian Diving Reflex in 2010, when I walked into a Launceston hair salon to have my hair cut by an eleven-year-old boy. I was at Haircuts By Children, a work that sees primary-school aged children taught how to cut hair, and then gives them control over a salon for the day. They take bookings, sweep hair off the floor, and cut, colour, and even shave hair for a weekend. It’s slightly terrifying and mightily exhilarating. I’ve been excited by and following the company’s work ever since, and on Saturday I had the chance to see their work again.

With the Come Out Festival, Mammalian Diving Reflex has been working with students from Blair Athol North B-7 School on a tour of the shops in Kilburn for These are the People in Your Neighbourhood.

On arriving, we were each handed a small magazine sharing the title of the show, with articles and pictures about the people and places we were going to visit, all written by and drawn by the students. Along Prospect Road, we visited eight businesses, where each shop owner was interviewed by some of the kids and the floor was opened up to questions. There was fantastic generosity and good will from all of the people we visited: all excited to be sharing their lives with this community of students and the rest of the group that had come along for the journey. We were repeatedly invited to come back to the businesses, to say hello, to say “I saw you on These are the People in Your Neighbourhood.

The children all approached the presentation of the work with agency. Mammalian Diving Reflex created the artistic and physical frameworks for the performance to exist, but the performance itself feels to belong entirely to the children. While some may have looked to the ground while presenting, while some spoke softly even with a microphone, the show resolutely belonged to the children.

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Review in Brief: h.g.


A solo audio and sensory experience for one, to write anything about h.g. seems to be saying too much, so this will be brief. It’s an unusual work that makes you want to say nothing when you leave, to want to keep your mouth closed and your thoughts to yourself, just a quick smile to those still waiting to go in, not wanting to spoil a thing. I am normally one of many words; but I want to hold this show in and only share with you a few.

For the duration of the show you are alone, only you and the world created by Swiss company Trickster-p. As you stray through the half-dark structure, through headphones on your ears you hear sounds so subtle they mightn’t be real at all; your eyes wander over the miniature creations; you turn the corner and an amazing smell confronts your nostrils; your hands reach out and stealthily touch a piece of the set.

The work feels less like a telling, or retelling, of the Hansel and Gretel story, and more a story that sits parallel to the original, taking you along the emotional journey through the forest. This world is about creating those layers of feeling, not narration. And while h.g. is deliciously dark, the chill that it leaves you with is perhaps forebodingly refreshing. There is a curious balance in the joy of good art and the themes that it rests on, as I left ready to take the world on anew.

Come Out Festival 2013 in association with Adelaide Festival Centre and Arts Centre Melbourne present h.g. by Trickster-p. Concept and realization Cristina Galbiati & Ilija Luginbühl, artistic collaboration Simona Gonella, sound space technical production Area Drama RSI, audio recording , Lara Persia, Angelo Sanvido, editing and mix Lara Persia. Co-production Trickster-p / Cinema Teatro Chiasso / Teatro Pan Lugano / Teatro Sociale As.Li.Co. Como in collaboration with Radiotelevisione svizzera-Rete Due.

In the Adelaide Festival Centre Banquet Room until May 29. More information and tickets. 

Then Arts Centre Melbourne August 8 – 11. More information and tickets.