Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

21/10/2017 - 04/11/2017

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

15/10/2018 - 15/10/2018

Nelson Arts Festival 2018

Production Details

Created and choreographed by Lucy Marinkovich
Dramaturg and director: Miranda Manasiadis



Salvador Dali is the inspiration behind the new dance-theatre work, Lobsters, coming to Wellington’s Circa Theatre this October. Presented by Borderline Arts Ensemble, created and choreographed by dance artist Lucy Marinkovich and under the dramaturgy of director/actor Miranda Manasiadis, Lobsters launches into the curious world of surrealism.

The show explores the absurdity of human relationships and fuses contemporary choreography with the eccentric story of the lobster that was once Dali’s muse. Marinkovich found the backbone of the work in a trip to the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain. “I found his obsession with lobsters, and his association of this creature with eroticism and femininity slightly absurd and yet strangely compelling,” she says. “It set my imagination alight and what started as playing with surrealist imagery ended up as a whole  narrative based around both our idealism and disappointments when experiencing love and romance.”

With extensive experience in the arts nationally and internationally Marinkovich and Manasiadis bring universality to Lobsters’ investigation into human dynamics, desires and disillusionment. Marinkovich began her career with Footnote New Zealand Dance and has since attended workshops with leading dance practitioners in Tel Aviv, Palestine, Spain, Germany, Austria and Ethiopia. Her own works have been performed at festivals, theatres and galleries in Singapore, Malaysia, Croatia and New Zealand. Manasiadis has recently returned from Athens, working on a de-construction of ‘Phaedra’ for various European and South American Festivals. She also works closely with FingerSix Dance Company, where their work was recently programmed for the acclaimed Athens Festival of the Arts, and was subsequently programmed for The Megaron Musikis in Athens.

Lobsters’ original soundtrack is created and will be performed live by music luminary Lucien Johnson (composer/saxophone). Johnson has had an extensive career which includes touring with his band Shogun Orchestra, The Black Seeds, Lord Echo, was a musical arranger for The Yoots, and a founding member of The Troubles. He has composed music for dance, film and television.

Joining Johnson and Marinkovich on stage are the dance talents of Matthew Moore (Out of the Box, Black Grace) and Emmanuel Reynaud (Footnote New Zealand Dance, World of Wearable Art). Playing the role of Dali’s infamous lobster is award-winning actress Carmel McGlone (Marching Girls, Send a Gorilla).

Lobsters is a wild and provocative ride with invigorating dance, surrealist imagery and a deeply compassionate narrative. It will leave audiences moved and exhilarated. With special thanks to Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council.

Circa Theatre, Wellington 20 October – 4 November

Tickets: $25-$35 from www.circa.co.nz or by calling 04 801 7992

Nelson Arts Festival 2018

“…bawdy, sensual, glamorous, dirty, beautiful, and melancholic cabaret of ruminations on love, sex, and longing.” THEATREVIEW

“…intense, physical, compelling…” DEIRDRE TARRANT

– Excellent Award – Best Ensemble Performance
– Champion Award – Most Outstanding Performance, Carmel McGlone
– Best Sound Designer, Lucien Johnson

A Borderline Arts Ensemble Production

Mon 15 Oct, 2018
FULL $46
UNDER 19 $25
GROUP OF 6+ $42pp
Plus TicketDirect Service Fee
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Performers: Borderline Arts Ensemble  - Lucy Marinkovich, Carmel McGlone, Matthew Moore & Emmanuel Reynaud
Musician and composer Lucien Johnson

Dance-theatre , Contemporary dance , Dance ,

1 hour

Passionate emotions surrealised

Review by Ruth Allison 16th Oct 2018

Like any work of art, it pays to view ‘Lobsters’ armed with some knowledge. Knowing Magritte’s ‘The Lovers’ and Salvador Dali’s ‘Lobster Telephone’ helps to unravel the complexities and surrealist work of Lucy Marinkovich and provides the launching pad for a pulsating, wild and challenging 65 minutes of theatre and dance.

For Dali, the lobster was associated with erotic pain and pleasure. Marinkovich’s choreography put huge demand on the three dancers who with almost unbelievable energy and physical prowess used their technical skill to play out, at times, a shameless and unrestrained sexual fantasy involving young lovers and lobster envy. A particularly fine performance from Xin Ji.

Enter a washed-out cabaret singer ex-lobster and a suitably laconic but talented muso, Lucien Johnson, and you have a collaboration for a weird and wacky world.  They’re not called Borderline for nothing. It seems as if Dali himself is at the centre of it all: this is multi-media experience full of mysterious allusions and analogies to food and sex. Egg whites have never been so beautifully whisked or massaged, cups of tea never so sensually shared.

The audience is confronted by an almost manic and bewildering array of music. From the weird static sounds produced by a theremin to Piaf’s ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ and an operatic aria in between, the world of Dali in all its madness comes to life.

Add Magritte’s ‘The Lovers’ to the mix and the dynamics become even more paranoiac. The painting is an unsettling image of an intimate embrace between two people whose heads are covered in cloth. The suggestion is that although they are lovers, they do not know each other well. This idea is played out exquisitely through Emmanuel Reynard’s and Lucy Marinkovich’s feverish dancing.  

There are none of the traditional classical ballet gestures (maybe a few lobster antics) to lead the narrative forward but then there is no narrative, just a series of passionate emotions wrapped around those universal themes of love and identity with liberal sprinklings of lobster ruminations from Carmel McGlone in her role as Dali’s long-abandoned lobster muse. 

Long live lobsters I say, and long live the creative energies of Borderline Arts Ensemble. 


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A brilliant exploration of the surreal

Review by Jennifer Shennan 28th Nov 2017

Edward James, wealthy English arts patron, eccentric and capricious, good on him, commissioned Salvador Dali to create work—the famous Lobster telephone (also the Mae West lips sofa…) were among the results. Of four telephones produced, one is in the collection of National Gallery of Australia—so it follows, probably, that Australian readers will be interested to know that a little show, Lobsters, all about Dali, et al surrealists, has just opened a fortnight season in Circa Theatre, Wellington. The Lobster is onstage centre for most of the riotously wonderful evening.

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Beautiful wizardry

Review by Sam Trubridge 23rd Oct 2017

Surrealism (as Paul Virilio describes it) expressed a refusal to believe in the certainty of reality, after the unspeakable atrocities of World War I. Unable to believe their own eyes and ears, artists chose instead to reject what they saw, to upset, upend, and deny the veracity of the real – celebrating instead the ‘sur-real’ – that which was above reality, on top of it, or instead of it. In their 1929 film, Un Chien Andalou, Luis Bunuel, and Salvador Dali rejected the power of vision by literally attacking the object of vision itself – in a famous scene where an eyeball is sliced open with a razor blade. Gone was the optimism of pre-war years, instead, progress and technology had become associated with the new weapons of the 20th Century: such as gas, tanks, and machine guns. Benign objects are recrafted: a telephone,  for example, once a celebrated addition to the modern world, is revisioned by Salvador Dalí with a lobster for a handpiece…

The team from Borderline Arts Ensemble draw on this movement for the creation of their new dance and theatre work, and their first full-scale production – Lobsters. After two successful works in The Performance Arcade, and residencies in Asia and Europe, the company have opened at Circa Theatre with this bawdy, sensual, glamorous, dirty, beautiful, and melancholic cabaret of ruminations on love, sex, and longing. In the style of Maria Dabrowska’s Carnival Hound or a Robert Wilson / Tom Waits collaboration, it is a beautifully crafted performance, full of moving and heartbreaking insights into the matters of the surreal world of love.

The work is choreographed by Lucy Marinkovich, working with co-director Miranda Manasiadis, who has also composed the dramaturgy and texts.  Lucien Johnson has arranged and written a lot of the music, with a couple of songs by the Tiger Lilies and Jacques Brel, also performing the music on stage with amazing precision, sensitivity, and versatility. Marinkovich is there too, on stage with dancers Emmanuel Reynaud and Matthew Moore, and actress Carmel McGlone.

The space is draped on all three sides with pink curtains, and the floor is white. Movements are bolder, more exposed in this bright space. The black theatre lights stand out as Brechtian reminders of the presentation that is occurring, as do the use of flashcards, direct address, and the performers’ first names. Movement languages range from industrious and self-preoccupied activity, to vigorous stage-sweeping tornadoes of movement. It is a fresh and energetic choreographic style, with less of the tropes that characterise contemporary dance – unafraid of new textures, new cadences, and of working boldly with image, music, and dramaturgy. In particular I found the dancers’ preoccupation with their fingers and hands very fascinating. Moore’s final solo is a lightning fast telegram of signs and shapes with his fingers as much as his whole body, amazingly executed. The five performers are seldom in touch with one another after the opening sequence – departing from this moment of unity as dreamers in their own subjective worlds and quests for love. Figures reach for each other but never quite connect. In one scene the long trails of their blindfolds are tethered to two sides of the stage, keeping them apart. Elsewhere the body is dissected by the fleshy pink curtain – feet protruding from underneath or through its folds. In one image it is lifted like a dress to reveal two naked legs. This dissection goes further with a dance employing the hands of mannequins. It is a sexual world  – sassy and suggestive, where the costumes don’t quite hide enough of the body, and where fruity flashcards are held between McGlone’s spread legs. Throughout there is a sense of the painting, a composition of stage image that echoes David Lynch’s films or the paintings of Rene Magritte most of all.

Ceci n’est pas un pipe (this is not a pipe) – the famous painting by Magritte intones. The work (entitled The Treachery of Images) stands for the absurdism at the heart of Surrealist art. But within this bemusing statement lies a simpler truth than we are unable to admit. Of course, this isn’t a pipe, it is a painting, a painting of a pipe, a painting of a pipe that reminds us that it is not actually a pipe, whilst also being a rather good representation of a pipe. There is a sense of this double-take throughout the show, where things can be one thing, and another thing at the same time. This is wonderfully apparent in the dance with the mannequin hands, where my eye keeps returning to check where a hand holds another truncated hand at the wrist – producing a simple double-ness where the object becomes uncertain: is that her own hand on her breast? Or is it somebody else’s? Is that hand on her forehead a fringe of fingers? Or is someone else’s hand on her eyes? The same double-take occurs with a bowl of beaten egg white that becomes face-paint…

“I am not a telephone, I am a lobster,” asserts McGlone. Ceci n’est pas un téléphone. A little reading into this work reveals Dalí’s strong sexual references in the work. “He wants me to to be a mermaid standing on a bed of eyeballs while snakes lick my breasts” – she says. McGlone’s feminine subject resists the Surrealist imperative, rejecting fetishism. So does Marinkovich, who prepares a cake for Reynaud, carries it over with the cream trembling in a giant whorl before unceremoniously dumping it onto the floor in front of him. These scenes reveal a thread at the core of the dramaturgy about the struggle between a man and a woman, played out in various layers of the work, and exemplified in the imagery of the (predominantly male) Surrealist canon. Johnson begins to play Ne Me Quitte Pas on the piano. Centre-stage, McGlone lifts the microphone to her mouth. Marinkovich poises her whisk in a similar fashion. And in that delicious moment when McGlone is about to burst into song for the opening lyrics when we see the words forming behind her lips and in her plaintive eyes, Johnson cuts in with his own perfect rendition of the song, the male voice snatching the music from his female counterpart. Verse after verse this continues, until finally McGlone summons the courage to wrest the song from him, and the result is heartbreaking, full of her emotion and struggle. 

Later, Marinkovich dances in a giant blonde wig that hides her whole head with its golden curls – a faceless Dolly Parton. At the core of this work, there seems to be a tension with the fetishisation of women in a Surrealist canon, alongside a deep longing for the freedom of not caring, of being sexual, sexy, and in love. McGlone laments a lost fertility, revels in her spiny skin as a lobster… Marinkovich flaps chicken wings then slaps her raised buttocks. The work is full of women struggling to appeal, to be appealing, enjoying their beauty, but at odds with this objectification. Facial expressions are sculpted, and smiles become demonic death-grins. In the last dance, between Marinkovich and Reynaud, there is a discordance and a savagery full of anger and distance. Throughout, their characters seem to have orbited one another with equal attraction and indifference. This last dance develops Reynaud’s distracted movements and Marinkovich’s whipping storm of limbs and hair as divided, competing activities. They blunder into one another more often than they align. He is still dripping with cream from the cake that she threw on the ground. It is a kind of rite of spring for lovers, to its very last death throes, where limbs flap on the ground like the fins of two dying fish. And in the fading darkness they finally embrace, and find each other, with gasping sexual whimpering, we are left with their desire and love.

In this new century, there may be new reasons to disbelieve the senses. In an age of the alternative fact and dirty capitalism, it seems that there is a similar distrust and uncertainty in the mechanisms of progress and in the reliability of the popular definitions of reality. But perhaps today a ‘sous-reality’ is necessary, as in one that unearths the stories underneath or within the mechanisms of mainstream neo-liberal, conservative narratives: such as the (still) unresolved issue of the female subject – where women’s rights are (still) abridged, truncated, under thinly veiled dogmatism, where the female body is still a lobster, a telephone, or a mound of eyeballs. It would be nice to see works like this in such a light, and to revel in the beautiful wizardry of the artists working here – weaving music, image, light, and movement together to reveal surreal truths about how we live and love – to make meaningless, strange, surreal images that we can all understand. Lobsters is more about romance than politics, more about beauty than meaning, but the work is fresh yet (this was its world premiere), and I sense in it a potent commitment to that seething underspace, our subconscious spaces, and subjected spaces, the ‘sous-real’ that is suppressed, scary, strange, and hard to understand. Let’s make more art about that.


Raewyn Whyte October 27th, 2017

Other reviews of LOBSTERS can be found at the links below: 

The Pantograph Punch - Adam Goodall

Michelle Potter on Dancing - Jennifer Shennan

RNZ Podcast - commentary by Pinky Agnew 

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Surreal contemporary dance cabaret

Review by Chris Jannides 22nd Oct 2017

The punters at the premiere opening of Lucy Marinkovich’s Lobsters at Circa give it enthusiastic applause, this is a very happy audience. They are pleased with many things. Emmanuel Reynaud is a big favourite, one very excited fan exclaiming to me after the show: “A whole hour of Manu, what could be better than that?” Carmel McGlone wins everyone, her’s is a show-stopping presence – singing, dancing, bantering with the audience, delivering text, playing the piano like a maestro – in one of the best, hot red, sequinned dresses she could wish for. In Wellington’s theatrical elite she’s nobility – a duchess, countess, baroness, marchioness of the stage, all of these. Although depicting a lobster, her performance is thoroughbred through and through. 

Love from the audience is extended to the stamina of the show. Admiration for the energy of bodies throwing themselves round the space, getting physically sweaty and audibly out-of-breath. Marinkovich and Reynaud, joined by Matthew Moore, are responsible for the frenzy and exhaustion of dancey mayhem at the show’s climax, and elsewhere throughout. Marinkovich is advantaged slightly because of her skimpy costume which will undoubtedly help keep her body temperature down. Smart move. The boys are mostly in suit pants and shirts, sometimes with jackets, so I feel for them with all that energetic movement. They’ll be hot. And ‘hot’ is what the show wants to be, with its central motif of the slow boiling and cooking of that culinary seafood delicacy, mimicked and paid tribute in the title and as thematic inspiration.

The crowd is very pleased that the proceedings are humorous. There is nothing worse than contemporary dance that no-one understands, but it is very clear that Lobsters does not wish to do that and the audience knows it and is grateful. There is relief in the auditorium that the jokes and gags are made explicit and that there’s no doubt when to laugh, when laughs are wanted. Clownish gestures and appropriate facial expressions are the clearest signals, along with sly looks at the audience to make sure we know not to be serious. As a colleague said: ‘This is surreal cabaret’. It’s amusement park frivolity. 

What are some of the ‘surreal’ images we are given? 

An almost naked man steps out of a cocoon of stretch fabric. A miniature saxophone is poked through the cracks of the surrounding red curtain. Bodies on their bellies flop around like stranded fish. Two pairs of bare female legs appear from under the backdrop, one of which is dragged out with the person attached manipulated like a shop mannequin. There is a dance with fake dummies’ hands that do some gestural things over the performers’ naughty bits. The musician percussively mimes a samba while walking across the stage carrying a big mirror ball. There is a cooking demonstration at a small table with beaten egg whites that get smeared on a person’s face. Similarly, there’s more smearing with a cake later on. A character stands at the side with red lobster claws for hands. A singer is first upstaged by the pianist singing her song for her, and then by large cards with writing on them held up behind her when she’s doing her big number. The same singer is later wheeled across the stage seated on a table, with her legs apart, holding various large glitter pictures of sliced fruit in front of her crotch. The female dancer dances, provocatively-ish, with an all over face-wig of blond curly hair. 

In between these sporadic moments of eccentricity, there’s a lot of other business, some of which hinges on bits of text that McGlone says into a handheld microphone, or in the lyrics of songs, such as: ‘I came from the country to the city’; ‘Diamonds in the sea are dirt cheap and free’; ‘Here is the perfect human… functioning’; ‘I tried to reach you’; ‘Nothing is sin’. Large chunks of choreography fill in the rest of the performance, doing all the things that are expected of choreography in terms of displaying abilities, impressing us with speed and intricacy, mixing things that only dancers can do with things any of us can do, communicating stuff  through dance steps and hand gestures used as a kind of sign language . The deadpan contribution of the musician/composer, Lucien Johnson, is a constant presence as he interacts on stage, at the side of the stage, off-stage – weaving his musically diverse genius where he can.

So, while this ’surreal contemporary dance cabaret’ is accessible on every level, it doesn’t seem to matter that none of it really makes any sense, in spite of it trying to avoid the death doom of incomprehensibility. Just the fact that it’s delivered in an entertaining way is enough for the audience to get its money’s worth on their night out in the city. Plus, this is a show for friends. Wellington audiences are comprised of lots of friends who rally round to support, enthuse and love their own. Lobsters is loved by Wellington’s friendly audience. They get it. No amount of obscurity for this dance-excited audience will dampen their engagement. They get it, that’s clear. Marinkovich and Miranda Manasiadis are the co-directors making bold inroads here into the advancement of their creative ambitions. With Lobsters they are making their splash!


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