Pin Drop.

Pin Drop.
Created and performed by Tamara Saulwick. Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall until Sunday August 29.

Sometimes, but only very occasionally, theatre-makers redefine what’s possible. Sometimes, the often fraught act of ‘collaboration’ evolves to result in a piece of theatre so hypnotic that you can’t actually believe what you are seeing. But rarely, in my experience, does a piece of theatre-making get so entirely under my skin that every single sense is startled into being in ways that I had never imagined possible.

With what can only be described as pure genius, Ms Saulwick and her expert team of artists and eleven additional recorded voices, has created one of the most extraordinarily involving and rewarding theatrical experiences. Every one of my senses was awoken by this intoxicating and hypnotic symphony of sound and light from the exceptional Ms Saulwick – and anyone who has any interest whatsoever in sensory perception or a stunning showcase in breath-taking technical skill should rush to the Arts House at the North Melbourne Town Hall this weekend to experience this supreme example of it.

Even with a grueling review schedule in the punishing Melbourne mid-Winter, I was compelled to walk home from North Melbourne with every one of my senses newly awakened to anything and everything that was going on around me. The sound of a creaking door in a shop across the road, distant voices, my heels on the footpath, screeching tyres and trundling, clanging trams – every familiar sound was highlighted in a totally new and unique way, such is the sensory power harvested and elucidated in this magnificent performance of immense theatrical adventurousness.

Sound Artist Peter Knight (composition, sound design and operation) is a genius. The intricate, other-worldly qualities of Mr Knight’s soundscape are astonishingly good, and in all my theatre-going experiences, I have never experienced technical artistry of such profound sensory invigoration like this. Ever. The design – credited to Bluebottle –Ben Cobham and Frog Peck – is extraordinary, deceptively simple yet masterful and remarkably perceptive. It makes me almost grieve for that way sound and light is so unjustly mis-used in the theatre (where even just turning a couple of lights on and pointing them at the stage seems to be considered ‘design’).

But it doesn’t stop there – such is the determination of Ms Saulwick for her peformance to be one of such alarming originality that even (and one might say especially) the good old theatre term ‘blackout’ takes on an entirely new dimension. Michelle Heaven’s movement is absolute and performed by Ms Saulwick with such a heightened level of skill and awareness that it is almost brutal in its sparsity, constantly surprising in its invention and never less than entirely of service to the soundscape and the almost filmic visions that unfold with pure poetic beauty.

Unforgettable. Go.

Geoffrey Williams

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