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The preset is of 3 hanging screens, an orange light projected onto each. Slowly, we see a pattern of wide wooden floorboards at odd angles, upside-down, rocking, tilting, turning over. This place looks like a boat —seasick, unsteady, dancing. A woman is rolling, almost writhing—perhaps she's already on the rocks? Her hands become spasmodic, claw-like, but there's overt sensuality in every move. The camera work is fast, disorienting, moving from one screen to another.

Each screen is a different room in a house. The room we see her in becomes furnished for travel with suitcases and stacked boxes. Suddenly, we're aware of another person, first through a doorway and then in the room itself, from the back, sitting in an armchair. The woman now seems anguished. She unpacks boxes, sets up a lamp, turns it on. Her actions are jerky, crouching.

Live dancers enter. Suddenly, the scene is here and now, alive and hot. There's a bed on the floor and 3 rooms on screen. As if in filtered sunlight, the woman rolls towards satin sheets. Is this a predictable bedroom scene? Blotches suddenly appear on screen to mess things up. In the domestic life of this couple, trouble seems inevitable.

On screen, he's packing very fast—a reprise, or a rewind? The piece begins to acquire a peculiarly unsettling quality. It's a turning point, but are we looking towards the future or the past? It folds back on itself at the same time as the plot begins to unravel.

The mix of live performance and video is seamless. As he leaves her, his face is ugly and he spits words with no sound, but every facial muscle is eloquent and derisive. At a peak in his ferocity, he tries to strangle her. A feeling here of ghastly inevitability. They appear to make up, but you know it's the beginning of the end.

I wondered whether this feeling of inevitability was planned or accidental; is it a narrative device or just un-worked angst? The camera rolls around, as if we're back at the beginning of the story, and the nausea begins to make sense. We must have begun somewhere in the middle. A lonely, live ballroom dance sequence unfolds, where the embrace is back-to-front. Is it deliberate? A small thing, but it contributes to the odd, edgy feel.

The camera rolls you around in perpetual upheaval. In the ultimate tactic to prevent him from leaving, she reaches the end of her rope and kills him. There ensues an almost comical scene as she drags his leaden body from one frame to another, through the house, and we see his body propped up in the chair in which he first appeared. She is trying to talk to him, pretending he's alive, and we see at last the sadness and madness in her actions. She is unpacking again, making him stay, in futile denial.

It has become a sad and awful story. Slowly she lowers herself into a bath and the water closes over her face; it's turned a little too real. The beautifully unsettling structure means what you think you're seeing is later revealed to be a different act entirely.

Inasmuch, choreographer Jason Pitt, video and film Jason Lam, Jason Pitt; performers Marnie Palomares, Jason Lam; Performance Space, Sydney, May 22

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Eleanor Brickhill; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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