promenade performance

Don’t Look Back was an excuse to wander around the inside of the Old Treasury Building as well as add another Perth International Arts Festival performance to our programme.

Although we were told before hand to wear walking shoes and that we will be in groups of three, I think another instruction or warning ought to have been for people that may feel claustrophobic. Although I felt excited about following the actors around the decommissioned building, now the set for the theatre, I felt a little claustrophobic in some rooms and corridors. Fortunately, H is aware of this, and I was set at ease by his simple touch on my back or reaching for my fingers.

Making your way through the space, peaking into rooms, opening and closing doors, and wondering and searching for meaning in the scenes was an intriguing way to experience the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I know that there are many interpretations of the myth, and I have seen opera and ballet performances of Orpheus in the Underworld, but I was a little puzzled by the performance.

I didn’t realise there was a programme (PDF) available, but the performance made a lot more sense after receiving a paper copy on the completion of our journey through the building. Like Roberta Alves in Australian Stage Online, I would have liked a little more text to glue the fetchingly dark and atmospheric scenes together.

The art installations, sets, music and actors provided an atmospheric journey through small and large rooms, corridors, overlooking the main hall, and down into the basement. The wrought-iron balustrade on the stairs going down is divine, but you soon notice that it and the stairs are covered in wedding confetti. The attention to detail was incredible. For example, there is one room with a fellow guillotining names from a typed list – the names of our little group were on there!

Sharing the experience of the performance with only two other people was an interesting experience. I didn’t know whether to whisper to the others, or make my way around in silence. However, as it turned out, the three of us were keen not to miss anything so pointed out or drew back any of our group that went ahead when we thought they may have missed anything. However, we must have been taking too much time, or the next group that set off after us were making their way quickly through, as we felt that we were hurried on by their footsteps.

H said that he would like to go again and be part of the last group to go through. But we had a bit of a laugh as I said it would probably be the The Underworld putting up the chairs and turning on the lights behind him.

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