BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

28/02/2023 - 02/03/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

Sound design by Sibel Atalay

EKC Choreography

Fur coats and an air of secrecy. An evening of intrigue and angst as three well known figures in society come together to navigate an underground world in which they can unveil their true selves before having to cover their tracks and return home; their escapades unbeknownst to those they sleep next to.

Inspired by underground societies that existed for women in the early 1900’s, which enabled women to meet and carry out jobs that were only to be done by men at the time. Daughters of Willow allows these aliases to be reimagined and resurfaced as they celebrate the feminine power and lean into a sensuality that propels the performance. They invite the audience to a weekly meeting at their underground society, where they confide in the audience, revealing truths. Liberated and frustrated, they journey through town rumours, inner desires and secrets.

Elevated by the performance talents of Sasha Matsumoto, Georgia Menhennet and Lulu Qiu, with sound design by Sibel Atalay, this is a show not to be missed.

BATS Theatre – The Stage, 1 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria, Wellington
Tuesday 28 February – Thursday 2 March 2023

PERFORMERS: Sasha Matsumoto, Georgia Menhennet and Lulu Qiu

Dance ,

Sense of anticipation, revealing mood and inquiry

Review by Helen Balfour 01st Mar 2023

I very much enjoy the beginning of a show as the audience settles, the sense of anticipation, revealing mood and inquiry, and Daughters of Willow did this. 

Jess Crompton, standing centre stage, convincingly plays a large, electric guitar and sings Wicked Game among other narrative songs that loosely allude to some of the concepts that may be revealed.  Lyrics that make me smile;  “I wanna be your vacuum cleaner and suck up your dust….I’ll be your Ford Cortina, I’ll never rust! 

The audience chatters loudly as she continues to sing, which I have to say I find annoying and disrespectful to them as a performer, perhaps the intro was a little too long. 

Faux (I hope so) fur clad performers (Sasha Matsumoto, Georgia Menhennet and Lulu Qiu) enter and set the scene of a night out on the town, high heels and evening clothes. A unison section of dance follows, cohesive and tight that focuses us, the performers weave and link together dancing a rhythmic sequence that pulses through the space in various directions. 

A short, false, fire alarm sounds soon after the show begins that provides confusion as to whether this is part of the show. It is not, the audience stays put and the show restarts. 

Much of the first section of the work features the fur coats as props, that performers at times, effectively use to manoeuvre the work forward and add variety. Some cleverly shaped gestural sequences occur and then later reoccur, this helps to make associations and references to the underground societies.    

As Lulu Qiu dances solo to the ‘over-bowed’ violin music, which is part of Sibel Atalay’s well-assembled soundtrack, this skilful, dynamic dancer weaves an unspoken, unknown tale.

The themes were just too ambiguous and on the esoteric side, providing peeks of understanding to an underground world, but the over use of references to hair and face and knowing looks to the audience fell rather short. 

Liz Cock’s choreography (her first work, as ECK Choreography, since graduating from Unitec in 2021) has merit, particularly the trio unison sections, notably the use of suspension and release danced often with rhythm and fluidity. However, what is lacking is a sense of cohesive unity, something that builds the work,  letting the audience ‘in’ more. The title was not enough to guide us, I was thankful for the programme notes that I received afterward. 

I do wonder, if words are spoken in a performance, should they be heard, I think so. Not being able to hear the performer who speaks with the coat on their head, is frustrating, as well as when they are seated at the back, mic-ed. 

Noteworthy lighting features from Janis Chang, were the partial alcoves at the back of the space, featuring chairs and drinks table, the guitar played earlier and a doorway which, in retrospect may have been symbolic of some of the truths that are somewhat revealed.  

Side light for dance always works a treat and Chang created a tacky, ally-way feel this way. 
Daughters of Willow is a curious piece, one that could rise to the top with further transformation and clarity


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