Burns Hall, Dunedin

04/10/2006 - 07/10/2006

BATS Theatre, Wellington

19/09/2006 - 23/06/2006

Production Details

Choreographed and danced by Kate Radford & Melanie Clark

No matter how wide she smiled the distant pulse of a bleeding drum awakened the ghosts of the past. Blurred boundaries, stony faces: transcending the blue.

The Unit explores a very personal response to emotional rupture and discordance presented in the intimate space of BATS Theatre, featuring stunning movement and live sound.

lucid is The Unit’s second season following Eminency.

Dave Kempton - trumpet, guitar, djembe, electonic programming, voice
Dan Simpson - electric bass, voice
L'hibou Hornung - violin, voice

Rehearsal director - Helen Winchester
Cyan Corwine - costume design
Robert Larsen - set, lighting, AV design; photography & publicity
Spitzer - assistant
Anna Hunziker - stage manager

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

50 minutes, no interval

Desperate conclusions

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 28th Sep 2006

Lucid begins and ends with incoherent mutterings first of real voices and then of reverse recording.  The programme is dark drawings and a form of mind mapping but delivers no insight into what the work intends to elucidate and is impossible to read unless in bright light(which Bats does not have!).

The musicians are excellent and Dave Kempton’s haunting trumpet solo, the electric bass of Dan Simpson and later violin and voice combination of L’hibou Hornung are part of outstanding original music that this trio play and perform. The dance is the most lucid part of the total, shifting balances and roles and sharing and shattering phrases that are always danced by both performers.

Kate Radford and Melanie Clark seem to have a bond in their dance style and choreography with much use of canon and repetition on very linear pathways that constantly crossed the space and travelled together but arrived nowhere. There was no connection to the audience and the rationale seemed both overdressed and underdressed by turns? Both sides of one whole?  Two perspectives of one mind?

There is no effort made to include or inform the audience and we are left to draw our own conclusions from a work that seems to set out to define roles and relationships and, as reality, does neither. Ultimately the dance reaches a desperate conclusion in which both dancers constantly hit a wall and hopes shatter.

Why so down and desperate? There must be something to celebrate? This split personality needed to find the less dark to keep the dark in perspective. The use of a gauze to split the two dancers and to enable us to see one clearly and one  as a subliminal shadow was effective (ambitiously strung pulleys and strings not quite achieving the desired effect the opening night).

The lighting (Robert Larsen) and costumes (Cyan Corwine) worked well in creating split identities and split spaces. The shedding of layers of costume was interesting as clothes were peeled away and the bodies became clearer communicators. Intriguing and performed with care and commitment, The Unit delivers on new challenges in this work.


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Singular duality

Review by John Smythe 19th Sep 2006

The name, I think, is ironic since there is no clear narrative, journey or thematic idea handed to us on the proverbial plate. There is a programme but if you make the mistake of waiting until you are in the dimly lit auditorium to read it, the title, key credits, the word "mania" and the sponsors’ logos will be all you can decipher amid the scrawled notes and doodled images.

Nevertheless, Lucid is a work I trust because the dancers and three musicians do work with a clear sense of purpose. Yet nothing lasts, it seems. A rise is inevitably followed by a fall, any attempt to go in one direction is countermanded by a sudden turn, sustained movement is shattered by sudden breakaway action …

Whatever they do – and whatever it may or may not mean – I cannot help but be impressed that Kate Radford and Melanie Clark are fit, toned, contemporary dancers whose instruments respond to any impulse and fulfil the promise of each idea … And even when it seems random as well as when it’s clearly controlled, they dance as one …

Quite soon – what with both being dressed identically in what turns out to be layers of silkish material, and their sometimes contrapuntal, sometimes unified choreography – I get a strong sense that they are one person who is attempting to destroy, accept, banish, rescue, reject, reconcile different aspects of herself …

Sameness lasts just long enough to give meaning to the differences. And whenever they seem to riff off in different directions, on different planes, they come back together in ways that suggest their lives are inextricably entwined … They explore and express a singular duality.

Post-show perusal of the program-oglyphics under bright lights bears all of these musings out, which earns me the extra buzz of feeling quite clever. Or maybe it really is quite literally lucid, to anyone willing to open up sufficiently to let what’s so reveal itself.

The musicians – Dave Kempton, L’hibou Hornung, Dan Simpson – likewise contrast dark with light, tormented with clear, subliminal with overpowering … Hornung’s violin is out of this world and Kempton tops great trumpet g, drum and guitar work – not to mention his on-the-trot sound mixing – with a stunningly haunting vocal sequence.

Robert Larsen’s lighting is as much about what’s in shadow as what’s illuminated and hopefully the wide, rolled scrim designed to bisect the stage fore and aft will behave itself for the rest of the season (although I have to say multiple strings and pulleys running at all angles and operated from way backstage is ambitious technology for BATS; I’d recommend the Roman blind concept rather than the long, sagging roller one).

The build to a crescendo of mind-numbing noise as the dancers throw themselves at a wall that seems to spark in repelling shock (a sort of embedded Taser effect) is a startling penultimate image, and the return – recalling the opening – to silence and slow turning, with one in light and the other in silhouette, brings a satisfying theatrical structure to a state of being that, one imagines, may have no end, at least during this lifetime.  


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