February 10th, 2010 by Matt

The giant hamster wheel with trees and Bell Tower

by: malone

La Fura dels Baus are not your average theatre company. Their work regularly challenges audiences all over the world by using non-traditional settings and exploring performance on gigantic scales.

It is impossible at a La Fura performance to sit back and remain detached from the action. The Supreme Court Gardens were full to overflowing, no chairs, sitting would have resulted in a severe trampling, by the time the huge crane began its dance and the  mob beneath surged around the performers who retaliated by hurling bombs into the crowd filled with flour and water.  It’s part of the La Fura approach, limit the distinction between performer and audience, make it feel dangerous and visceral.

Designed specifically for Perth Festival, this performance captured Perth’s most important contemporary symbol – the crane. Huge, imposing and repeated across our skyline, cranes evoke a sense of industrial progress.  Someone recently suggested in a tweet that Perth should have a sign up at the Airport advising visitors that we are “under construction”  it seems La Fuara tapped into that Potential Perth, a new, open, lively, creative place: Under Construction.

The counterpoint was equally present in Friday’s Festival Opening Performance, evinced by people in what can only be described as a giant hamster wheel that descended from the sky, an angry machine charged forward and back through the crowd, from time to time it would rear up and its horns lurch out above the crowd. These things remind us that industrial progress is not without cost.

Yet this performance was also a celebration of humanity in a world lurching after its desires. The solo human singing voice provided a counterpoint to the mechanical banging and deep thrum soundtrack. A final montage of white suited people dancing in the air, the sky lit up with fireworks and at ground level a stage filled with performers sharing joy with the audience.

The crowd drew breath as one and then streamed out into the night.

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