Red Earth, Dark Matter

Review in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

Red Earth create installation and performance works that explore our relationship with the elemental world. Dark Matter focuses on alchemical transformation; the grouping, dispersing and regrouping of vital forces in a cyclical pattern of life, death and regeneration.

Javanese dancer Parmin Ras, resplendent in white, initiates the performance action whilst ice dripping onto a metal disc contributes to the soundscape and liquids poured onto fire change the colour of flames. Adam Barker embodies the fiery masculine qualities of Sulphur and Marega Palmer the enveloping feminine qualities of Mercury. They explore their relationship to each other, to the geometric structures of the installation, and to the elemental substances they encounter – rings of fire, pools of water, cascading streams of chalk, clouds of smoke.

Often the encounters are breathtakingly beautiful, such as when Parmin and Marega suddenly appear as an eight-armed goddess – real arms and shadow arms swirling in a sea of blue smoke. Sometimes the encounters are dynamically charged with eroticism and danger. Just occasionally the performance could benefit from an outside eye – there are times when the performers need to allow more space for each to make their statement, or to create stillness or a change of pace.

Dark Matter is a denser, more broody and primeval work than Alam Halus, Red Earth's previous collaboration with these three performers. There is a less obvious narrative, less variation in tone from one section of the piece to the next. It could therefore be thought of as less theatrical, but in its ritual exploration of the essence of life and death it brings us back to the roots of theatre: the shared experience of a group of people who, by viewing a microcosm of life, bring themselves nearer to understanding the nature of that life.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-2
p. 20