22/02/2013 - 03/03/2013
Time has changed this house, from its beginnings as a grand residence, to a dwelling of anti-developers, and its current incarnation as an Art School.
This candlelit promenade performance will guide you through different worlds within Inverlochy House.
14-21 February, 8.30pm
Inverlochy Art School, 3 Inverlochy Pl, (Off 144 Abel Smith St)
Bookings: www.dashtickets.co.nz $14/12
An odd mixture
Review by John Smythe 23rd Feb 2013
The reception room is festooned with memorabilia evoking the history of Inverlochy House. If you have come expecting to rediscover its Victorian and Edwardian era as a ‘grand residence’ by virtue of this Residence, engaging with these artefacts will be your only chance, until the very end.
The ‘show’ proper, billed as a “candlelit promenade performance”, treats us to a series of experiences in different rooms. Well the first one – an ‘Afterlife 101’ seminar (led by Aidan Weekes) – is relatively experiential in that we drape ourselves in spook sheets and participate in an exercise or two. A vocalised list of names presumably relates to past inhabitants but we learn nothing about them.
The rest of the hour is more observational. Beyond the Dark Room we find a woman (Rose Kirkup) in a bubble bath. Clad in a leotard like Beyoncé wears in her ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’ You Tube clip, she relates her poignant story of migration from the Hutt Valley to the big city and “an awesome job in an accounting firm” only to suffer staff room humiliation in her quest for love.
Quite where this fits in to the house’s history is unclear but it turns out to be the most compelling portion of the hour. And if you know Beyoncé’s ‘I’m A Survivor’ there’s a brief opportunity for some sing-along participation.
Up the stairs, in an art room, a disembodied voice keeps telling us there is to be no [spoiler averted] in this room, which of course produces the opposite result. I guess that’s quite experiential, to be fair. And it may relate to some notions of Victorian propriety.
Next, in a bare room this time, we passively watch a grungy digital film depicting disaffected youth in suburban Gisborne, where “every day’s a Sunday.” Despite being the first city in the world to “see the light”, this is “Dystopia” … There are scenes in a beer garden, a couple of kids play out domestic violence scenes from Once Were Warriors, and a drunken youth talks about his fickle father.
How this fits the show’s advertised concept is even more of a mystery. Maybe it claims some tenuous connection to the time when the House was “a dwelling of anti-developers”.
Back in the foyer we are given a microwave cooking demonstration (by Nic Lane, I think). By this time I have to conclude that Inverlochy House’s current role as an Art School means that anything goes and any sense of thematic or conceptual cohesion would be regarded as far too conventional.
The front parlour is effectively returned to its past by an overhead projector image that clothes the walls in Victorian décor as a pianist adds to the evocation, providing a context for the perpetrators to take their bow.
Overall it is an odd mixture of performative elements from which I feel more and more detached as the hour progresses. If I declare it adds up to considerably less than the sum of its parts, will its creators feel they have therefore ticked some sort of ‘post-modern deconstruction’ box?
Amid the wealth of other works on offer in the Fringe, I find it hard to care.
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