Marzo Dewey Dell ‘s latest creation is a distinctive performance that attempts to blend dancing and Japanese Noh theatre with the manga structure and aesthetic.
The title refers to March that, in the creators’ imaginations, is most propitious for war. Since ancient times March has always been the month of the war; the winter fades as the winter fades and spring signals a return to the fray.
The program notes imply that “Marzo explores a time gone by and that it happens on a “distant planet.” The stage is minimal; the audience begins by looking into a stark white crater. The piece begins with a samurai figure with a large cartoonish head returning to the battlefield, his heavily stylised movement coupled with simple Japanese poetry. A simple, Japanese-language libretto with English surtitles accompanies the action. Two other manga-styled characters – a probably female warrior with a gobstopper head and a champion warrior with a menacing beaked face – emerge and an astral epic story appears to be shaping. Marzo mixes into the choreography and the drama striking puppets; solid-white pillows, resembling the “Michelin Tire” man and an over-sized five -pointed star that deflates and reflates in a menacing visual effect.
It’s impossible to say with much certainty what’s going on, but each scene is a tableaux that evokes either the intimacy of love or the tension of violence. The enveloping sound score credited to Black Fanfare / Demetrio Castellucci pummels the ears with an electronic sound track. The candy-coloured costumes, the soundtrack and the choreography all conspire to create a desolate world laden with tension whose edges are blurry and time is fluid.
The movements are odd and stylised, the story disjointed the costumes are as familiar as they are strange and the music expands and contracts in our head violently; a sensory overload. We are left at the end of the performance drained and impressed. Despite the abundance of audio-visual stimuli and the pervading intensity of action everything felt distant though and we remained detached observers.