So ... last night I went to a theatre show at the Studio in the Opera House. Took the train to Circular Quay, leaving in plenty of time because of the notorious unreliability of Sydney Rail ... though I have to say I've only rarely had problems. Consequence was, I got to the Quay about seven fifteen and wasn't due to pick up my ticket until eight. I decided to go looking for a café called Bar Luca I've passed while driving. Because of the name. Wasn't sure exactly where it is but I didn't mind that - there's something about walking the streets I drive so often down, seeing up close and personal the places I flash past chasing dollars. I couldn't find the bar, probably it was already closed, since I think it's an early opener. Not really my kind of place anyway, it's usually full of suits. Coming back down the hill I was amused to find that I'd picked up Lenny's Lawyer (see dérives) outside the Justice and Police Musuem, as if he were some kind of escaped exhibit. I continued up Albert Street, turned into Macquarie and there across the road was an assemblage of stones I'd never noticed before. On a soft green rise on the fringes of the Botanic Gardens are strewn maybe a hundred pieces of intricately - or not so intricately - carved pieces of Hawkesbury sandstone. They have been placed, set into the earth, but not in any arrangement I could discern. In fact they seemed deliberately left in such a way as to suggest no arrangement at all, if that isn't a contradiction. Pieces of a building, or buildings, including a couple of beautifully smooth domes like those that used to grace the old Pyrmont Bridge. I recalled my time at the Caledonian Hotel, a squat on the Point, where I used sometimes to go and sit among the pieces of the disassembled Pyrmont Bridge and look out over the Container Port and the CSR Sugar Refinery hissing and screeching across the dark water. Couple of pieces had the date 1924 inscribed on them and one of these also carried the rubric: YWCA. Is this what is gathered here? Bits of the old Y? I passed on, calling briefly into a gallery to look again at a wonderful Roualt print they have for sale (only six grand!) then on to the show. Which was ... well, what was it? A black light puppet show utilising a range of really very well made and operated puppets, written, produced and directed by an ensemble of young people who call themselves Shh. No dialogue, no spoken word at all, but a sophisticated musical/fx soundtrack precisely cued to the visuals. I know one of the directors, Mischa Baka, quite well, have known him for about ten years now, watching him grow into a confident, proficient and always surprising film maker; but I hadn't seen any of his theatre work before. He's been teamed up for a while now with a Polish born livewire called Michal Imieski, an extrovert to Mischa's introvert. The woman who intro-ed the show emphasised it was made up of fragments, that there was no master narrative ... leading obsessives like me to go looking for one throughout the hour's performance. The event began with seven oblong light boxes on the stage, each showing an outline of a human body. When the lights went down, these were turned to show body parts on another face; then removed. A pile of something lying on the floor resurrected as a life-sized, though very skinny, marrionette which danced a kind of skeleton dance, like a superannuated Pierrot. The theme of body parts continued throughout, as did the ensemble's predeliction for attenuated, ghostly marionettes. Two human figures, a Man and a Woman, passed at intervals, the woman evidently lost, the man a picker-up of fragments of bodies (or anything else) that had fallen on the stage. One sequence, where a man in red danced with one of those white, attenuated marionettes strapped to his front, took my breath away: until her arm fell off I hadn't realised it wasn't another human he was guiding through the moves. Another spectacular set piece was a dance of glowing masks, like death masks illuminated within by red-yellow lights. There was more ... but did it cohere? Well, no. It was more a showcase of talents and tricks than an actual theatre work. That's fine - one of the points of the evening was, precisely, to showcase their work for funding bodies, theatre schools, arts bureaucrats in the audience and in this I believe they were entirely successful. These guys showed they could do anything once they know better what they want to do. As of now, they deserve the room to explore what that could be without the pressure of any commercial (or narrative!) imperative bearing in on them. The finale, beautifully conceived though somewhat clumsily executed, showed the extent of their ambition. The Woman and the Man come downstage with their suitcases, which they open. Out come two light puppets, a large female figure and a smaller male, both irresistibly recalling, to me at least, Hans Bellmer's poupées. In the sequence that follows, during which you watch both puppeteers work and puppets play, the male puppet fails to seduce the female puppet, who in turn successfully seduces the male puppeteer and leads away him into the wings. With her ghostly human counterpart guiding them both ... leaving the male puppet lying there glowing centre stage, a bereft homunculus.

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