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The time being

Neal Harvey inspects Circa’s Timepieces I-IV

Drawing on local and interstate experience in dramaturgy and production management Neal Harvey is presently completing his PhD in the Drama Department at the University of Queensland.

Circa, Timepieces I-IV Circa, Timepieces I-IV
Circa’s Timepieces I-IV represents the company’s latest attempt to physicalise the metaphysical. Building thematically on their most successful show to date, The Space Between (currently touring Europe), the new work takes place in the cavernous main auditorium of the Judith Wright Centre. The move from Circa’s studio to the larger space presents a welcome chance for more people to experience this beguiling series of confrontations between performers and time. A dense work of multilayered sequences, Timepieces allows audiences to take from them what they will. The bodies of the performers (Louise Deleur, Darcy Grant and Chelsea McGuffin) yield one beautiful image after another, asking ‘What is real about time?’

Grant’s Chaplin-esque cat and mouse game opens the show, setting the tone for the production’s clever use of a strikingly spacious set design. A pair of LCD screens, sitting like footlights and an as yet blank, floor-to-ceiling rear wall projection screen leave the performer ample room to chase an elusive spotlight around one half of the space. From this simple prologue the entirety of the stage quickly comes alive as the scene evolves into a backlit, tumble-athon with performers attempting to outdo one another in a series of cross-stage exchanges. It is McGuffin’s static trapeze routine, though, that epitomises this production’s clever engagement with both the technical and the physical in the attempt to materialise the immaterial. A geometric projection and an industrial soundscape cleverly syncopate the routine to analogise the framework that time accords our daily lives.

A tightrope struggle and a hula hoop dance each make an appearance while McGuffin’s bed of nails routine provides an early highlight. Deleur’s en-pointe disjunctive, industrial ballet makes clear the employment of dance as both illustration and exploration of the temporal plane of existence. A largo somersault to a tick-tocking metronome is almost too painful to watch while the honesty and resolution of a well-crafted pop song (in this case, the Streets’ Dry Your Eyes) and a waltz between lovers provide stark examples of the neighbourly intrusion of time in our lives.

By physicalising time’s ethereal presence in the everyday, Circa’s production represents that which we cannot see. Like the time-lapse footage of a turn-of-the-century city building’s demolition and replacement that accompanies several transitions in Timepieces, Circa’s latest palimpsest deftly invites its audience to reflect on the time signatures of their own lives.


Circa, Timepieces I-IV, concept, direction Yaron Lifschitz, performers Louise Deleur, Darcy Grant, Chelsea McGuffin, sound design Lawrence English, video loops Kirsten Bradley, programming Robin Fox, choreography by the company, additional material Natalie Cursio, Lucy Guerin, costumes Louise Deleur; Judith Wright Centre for Performing Arts, April 3-8

Drawing on local and interstate experience in dramaturgy and production management Neal Harvey is presently completing his PhD in the Drama Department at the University of Queensland.

RealTime issue #73 June-July 2006 pg. 31

© Neal Harvey; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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