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Crashing the party

Philipa Rothfield


Kate Denborough, Birthday Kate Denborough, Birthday
Although Kate Denborough’s Birthday involves 2 members of the crew’s immediate family, it has a solo ring to it. This is because the feelings of the piece centre around Denborough’s existential self-questioning. Birthdays can do that to you, sometimes creating solitude in the midst of celebration.

The set is small. A little bit of a house comes crashing down. A party is held. The audience are the party, that is, apart from Kate who does everything. She even plays her own party games amidst a choreography of excitement. Funny how sad it all seems. The bigger the gesticulation, the emptier the gesture. Finally, a headpiece is revealed, a sort of silver galaxy with orbiting blue lights. When the headgear is fitted, the piece changes from witty, funky, and sad to surreal. This is the largest danced section of the piece—a mixture of beautifully shaped legs and turns and tottering unknowingness, turned inside out. The walls of this small universe provide anchorage but not direction.

It takes Dad (Michael Denborough) to bring his daughter out of her existential nausea with cake and champagne. Unfortunately, he fades away, his mortality getting the better of him, leaving our hero alone again. The wall momentarily functions as an artificial partner, absorbing the betrayal of loss. But how good can a wall be? Luckily, youth saves the day and dashes across the stage to grab a mouthful of cake. We leave Kate seated by the young musician (Christopher Bolton), having her cake and eating it too. A thoughtful piece that comes from a deep emotional place. Three cheers.


Birthday, choreography Kate Denborough, direction John Bolton, performers Kate Denborough, Michael Denborough, Christopher Bolton, design Ben Cobham, Kristin Green, sound Franc Tetaz; CUB. Malthouse, September 14-16.

RealTime issue #39 Oct-Nov 2000 pg. 38

© Philipa Rothfield; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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