Vast imagination on show in work probing human psyche

Interspecies love affairs have been a recurring theme from King Kong to The Shape of Water.

Now artist Fleur Elise Noble presents Rooman, a fine follow-up to her first festival offering in 2011, the fantastical 2 Dimensional Life of Her.

That was challenging, and so is Rooman, the ultimately moralistic tale of a night- time romance between a bored young woman and her dream lover - a roo-mate.

Some people may get lost right there, but this show is worth seeing just to experience Noble's boundless imagination as she projects a technical smorgasbord of meaningful, low-tech action on to a three-dimensional stage to create fantasy worlds that probe the human psyche.

The result is a tour de force of skilful stage work, wordless storytelling and effective use of dance, song and especially sound.

It raises serious questions about loneliness and the intense human drive for belonging. And even if it occasionally loses traction in its own cleverness, it remains endlessly inventive, startlingly original, and brilliant festival fare.

While Noble creates complex imaginary worlds on stage, all Chloe Loftus needs is a tree. Her uplifting performance in Tree Dancer high above Bullock Creek outside the Lake Wanaka Centre raised the bar for outdoor entertainment.

Dangling from a rope invisible against the darkening sky, Loftus was a floating, wind-touched fairy, a white flower unfurling in slow motion.

Every movement was a masterclass in control and balance as she held perfect poses in, on and below branches, gliding between them with perfect precision.

While every graceful gesture seemed effortless, any technical climber knows how much strain ropework involves. Despite appearances, Loftus is no delicate fairy, but an arboreal athlete.

- Nigel Zega


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