Review: Seaside performance delights

Elemental performers Victoria Bernard (front) and Fern Stoddart. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Elemental performers Victoria Bernard (front) and Fern Stoddart. Photo: Peter McIntosh

St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool
Thursday, March 15
Reviewed by:  Jono Edwards

Last night, Elemental transformed a seaside scene into a mythical wonderland.

The 200-person audience was immersed in the experience, which is undoubtedly a highlight of the Fringe.

Through dancing, acrobatics and music the cast told the story of the doomed love between earth mother Papatuanuku (Emma Holloway), and sky father Rakinui (Abigail Rose), interspersed with the jealous seduction of sea-god Takaroa (James Burchell).

The performance opened with a wailing te reo introduction from Ana Good, who narrates the story between scenes.

The outdoor St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool setting provided an idyllic backdrop in the evening sun, with crashing waves providing an eerie soundtrack between scenes.

Performers made full use of the space with floating platforms, swimming dancers and musicians scattered through the balconies.

Dancers entranced the crowd with emotive and hypnotic movements.

The smooth midair contortions of hanging acrobats drew gasps from the audience - and the occasional squawk from passing seagulls.

The music played an essential mood-setting role, transitioning between enchanting, hypnotic and thunderous.

In the penultimate scene, goddess Ruaumoko (Mariya Semenova) launches a barrage of elemental destruction in which all characters move in a frenzy of choreographed chaos.

Perhaps the only flaw of the open stage was the audience often needing to move or turn from the concrete step they were sitting on to follow the performers.

By the time of the bow, the sun had set on a unique production.

• Elemental is on at the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool until Sunday, starting at 7.30pm.

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