3rd Horse

King Edward Court Carpark, Dunedin

02/04/2009 - 03/04/2009

Dunedin Fringe 2006-9

Production Details

Tableaux events in the car park show a surreal and sorrowful story about nature and civilization. This performance/visual art is outdoors, please dress for the weather/drizzle. 

Dates: 2, 3 April 2009  
Venue: King Edward Court Carpark, Tennyson Street
Time: 9.30 pm (Duration 30 mins) (April 4 adverse weather postponement date)
Prices: Entry by donation 



Sheer artistry delivers prophetic political message

Review by Terry MacTavish 04th Apr 2009

One hundred strangers huddle together under the stars, waiting uncertainly in the dark of a city car park. It is fine but cold. "This is nothing," says a young marine biologist beside me, "I’ve stood waiting for the Northern Lights at 40 below freezing," and bites into the apple he has been given on entry.

Anticipation builds. We know only that this will be ‘a visual art performance about nature and civilisation’. But the omens are good. Katrina Thomson, responsible for conception, direction, production and art for 3rd Horse, has won awards at previous Fringe Festivals for her site-specific works, and is the visionary who crafted the spectacular giant bird lanterns for our last magical Midwinter Carnival.  

A cellphone rings, and we jump, then giggle.

Suddenly a smart blonde clicks across the car park to the lone SUV. It splutters into life and screeches away, Kylie Minogue blaring from its speakers. A spotlight reveals what was behind it: four well-dressed people enjoying a dinner party: white linen, glassware, candles, a chef and a busy waiter. Twelve dozen oysters, lashings of crayfish, kiwi soup – kiwi soup?!

A bright light is focused on the high window of the nearest building. A woman in heels and skirt with handbag is dangling precariously from the sill. Surely someone will save her? Yes, a man in uniform is bringing a ladder. He places it however at a considerable distance, climbs it and calls repeatedly through a megaphone, "You are in a predicament!" Then he climbs down and departs with the ladder.

Now something is emerging slowly from the rubbish skip. It is a huge, stunningly beautiful whale, and it floats towards the dinner table where endangered fish is being guzzled with champagne. The marine biologist snorts. I don’t notice how the whale disappears, because two people have set up a see-saw to play on, and a magician in a sparkling top hat is being presented to the crowd.

And big excitement! An entire group of important-looking people have gathered at a podium, and mounting it is the actual ex-Minister of Energy and Climate Change, David Parker. He is making a speech, something wonderful has been accomplished, is to be celebrated, despite those who would have stood in the way of progress, who claimed we’d go hungry! We are to feast on our flourishing economy!

He tells us he, the politician, will unveil the true fruit of our civilisation! Triumphantly he pulls the covering from the statue beside him, and a gasp goes up.  It is a giant monolithic Easter Island head. This ominous climax has been so skilfully anticipated, that it carries a real sense of shock, of revelation.

The audience appears rapt, totally absorbed in this series of visions, at first mysterious, but now, ‘gathering to a greatness, like the ooze of oil crushed’, increasingly clear. Meanwhile the diners eat and drink, the players balance on their see-saw, the magician pulls a rabbit from his hat, the lady dangles helplessly from her sill, while the man with the ladder informs her she is certainly in a predicament, and a mechanical digger spills sand over the cement, creating desert.

Then one of those perfect moments you know you will not forget: appearing out of the night, stepping delicately, nervously on to the sand, a dapple-grey mare. The horse’s ears flicker at the audience, though we are barely breathing, but the slender rider takes her into a beautifully controlled canter and we watch entranced.

Of course. The terrifying Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from The Book of Revelation. Just what did the Third Horse represent? Ah. Famine. And so the last piece of the puzzle fits into place. But Prospero’s (or Thomson’s) wand has waved, the spirits are melted into air, into thin air, and we are left in the dark.

"Gives you a lot to think about," says the marine biologist, who regrets not saving his apple for the mare. The prophetic political message has been disturbing, but this scientist says he is pleased such issues are being tackled by the arts. The programme gives a long list of websites that address the same issues.

The organisation this courageous tour de force must have entailed is mind-boggling, with over 50 people in the cast and crew of 3rd Horse, but to my mind, more significant are the passion and commitment involved, and above all the sheer artistry. Superb.
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