Working On My Night Moves
Production Company: Zanetti Productions
Date: 7th March, 2019
Location: Basement Theatre, Auckland
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reviewer: ANUJA MITRA
Working On My Night Moves begins in what feels like an underground space. The audience is herded into one end of the dim theatre, where we stand behind curtains strewn with constellation-like lights. This closed atmosphere is a striking contrast to the end of the show when stars dance around the room and everything seems to burst open. Created by Julia Croft and Nisha Madhan, Night Moves is a dreamy “gesture to the impossible”. As well as breaking the boundaries of theatre, it invites us to come along with Julia, its solo performer, as she attempts to break free from the patriarchy and even the space-time continuum.
The show turns out to be more experimental than I expected, but absorbing because of this. There is no dialogue or clear “story”: True to its name, it can best be described as seeing Julia perform a series of movements. Using her body and the objects around her (including stage lights, ladders, and chairs), we watch her set up her own space, dismantle it, and set it up again. At one point, she dons a makeshift space suit and then shreds it to a blasting soundtrack. In another sequence, she flits around in Dorothy’s costume from The Wizard of Oz, before shedding this too. Julia’s performance is compelling throughout — and as we follow her process of creation and deconstruction, it becomes apparent that the “story” of this show is the space we’re in itself. We’re witnessing one woman navigating the physical and emotional obstacles on her way to freedom. Can she shed the constraints that weigh her down and enter a future of her own making?
We are right there beside her on the journey. There are no seats, leaving the audience to walk around with Julia. Her frequent pushing through and sometimes against audience members forces you to be physically alert and ready to move. But it also makes you alert in a deeper sense, as you are constantly rethinking your position in relation to Julia; and this aspect of Night Moves intrigued me in how it challenged the traditional relationship between the performer and audience. We all felt like active participants in the show, venturing through this strange landscape alongside the actor. Though standing in a cluster of people can lead to visibility issues, Julia’s constant moving around gives you the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the action wherever you are in the room.
It’s impossible to talk about Night Moves without praising the brilliant performance design by Meg Rollandi and sound design by Te Aihe Butler. What we see and hear are all infused with the surreal, sci-fi elements central to the show. Featuring classic songs spliced together with voice recordings and original compositions by Jason Wright, Night Moves is unimaginable without its captivating soundscape.
Though its abstract nature means it’s not to everyone’s taste, Working On My Night Moves is an utterly unique experience. Don’t be put off by the fact you’ll be standing, since you’re likely to be immersed enough that the hour will sail by. Coming out of the theatre, I overheard many audience members discussing their own interpretations of what we had just seen. It’s definitely a show that opens up a world of possibilities rather than offers answers — so go with curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to lift off into outer space.
Working On My Night Moves runs at the Basement Theatre in Auckland from 3rd – 26th March. Click here to get your tickets!
ANUJA MITRA is a Law/Arts student trying to fit creative endeavors into her never-ending degree. Full-time nerd and avocado enthusiast; she is probably currently ranting about something, re-organising her bookshelves or petting her multiple cats.
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