Pleasure Seekers, Ariadne / Chris Goode and Theron Schmidt, His Horses [REMIX]

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

Newly-formed Pleasure Seekers presented their first production at the 7th annual Sprint Festival. Ariadne eschews a linear narrative line, revelling instead in the shifting realities of a stranded woman surrounded by wine bottles, suitcases and memories. A meditation on arrested existence, anchored in the volatile present of her eternal daily routine, confronting idealised pasts and thwarted futures. Accompanied by a 1950s soundtrack of picturesque love is a parade of puffy dresses with courtships alongside the silent futile ferocity of a physical desire played out in a series of movement and trapeze sequences. With her lover cast as a lurking shadow, the action’s cyclical structure embodies Ariadne’s experience. Some might find the violence she cultivates disconcerting but its emphasis should not be misconstrued as misogynist. Its presence in the piece (and in the theatrical space) articulates an attempt to feel alive in a time and place devoid of real life. The two performers deftly use rope work, slides, minimal text and ‘dressing up’ costume. Although movement sequences need the sharpness and development woven into the rest of the piece, they are buoyed by their raw physicality. Unfortunately the promising use of CPT’s space was marred by floor work being lost to anyone seated beyond the second row. Regardless, there is a sense around this work of open-mindedness that is difficult to encapsulate. It is not abstract work that can mean whatever you want it to. Rather, the piece does not attempt to direct your involvement or emotions, but includes your experience of the encounter in its disclosure.

His Horses [REMIX] was reborn one year after its showing at last year’s Sprint. There are moments when its rough emotion allows for affecting contemplation. Schmidt is the lone performer sliding through languid and arduous physical precision. Accounts of being and loss resonate when the work is specific. A fragment finds the performer dressing himself in a soaking shirt, dripping as it hangs off him. He stands before us weighed down and chilled, material sticking to the skin. A dried leaf, snatched from under a table, caressed and cherished and later burnt to ashes. Distinctive paint handprints on the wall blur in a frenzy of names of turn-of-the-century luminaries. However, the specificity that anchors the above fragments in this re-imaging of the piece is not present or consistent enough. In this showing the coupling of theatre and performance art conventions don’t support the piece’s rhizomatous structure, as a series of blackouts creates a relationship with the audience that not only distances but also excludes involvement. When Theron lights candles at the end of the piece they are, understandably for practical reasons, fake. Yet it illustrates a lack of oxygen in this particular mix. Ostentation thinned out by the melancholy of its exploration. It is challenging to address live performance and theatre in new ways. The encounter with His Horses [REMIX] seems to approach us but struggles to make connections. It is vibrant when the work has space to develop and amplifies imagination when abandoning generalities and delving into the organic.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 24