An enthralling exploration of art
By Leeor Adar
Always in for a treat, NICA delivers an enjoyable romp with a message from its second-year student ensemble.
Directed by David Woods (Ridiculusmus Theatre Company, London), Circonoclasm is a sharp and fun take down of the sacredness of the arts space. In the National Australia Gallery, the artwork’s shelf life is brief as elastic thieves swing, bounce and flounce between the bored security guards. As the nation collectively yawns, bored by the art perhaps, or bored by the way in which it is displayed, the capable hands of thieves go to work.
“Not our fault” is repeated by a gussied-up Maya Davies, who in a transatlantic accent delivers a history of all the failed attempts to preserve past works. In Woods’ own words, the “deadpan physical theatre schtick” is the mode for which iconoclasm is explored by the students in this 70-minute performance. The messaging is clear: the arts has given way to excuses and corporate sponsorships, where art for art’s sake is preferred to quality. One could say we experience Circonoclasm as shtick for schtick’s sake, but I like that Woods has injected something deeper into the showcase of NICA’s talent.
The talent is indeed on display, which is a hard feat to pull off when you have a 23 strong ensemble with their own unique skill to showcase. We cycle through Seurat (with a magical nod to the circus), Michelangelo and Munch to name a few, as works of art come to life through the physical expression of the performers.
Dominating the performance is a series of heists that toy with physical boundaries, but the plot thickens (as does the humour) with enquiring characters, a dog-pigeon, and some fantastically mind-bending backtracking. In an attempt to uncover the architects of the heist, we are treated to a series of hysterical vignettes where the guards interrogate one another. Notable mentions to Dean Moran’s compelling relationship with an orange, and Harrison Sweeney’s great seduction.
Overall, I was enthralled with NICA’s talent and Woods’ vision.
Circonoclasm was performed at the National Institute of Circus Art. For more about NICA visit https://www.nica.com.au/