Review: Angel-Monster (Assembly Checkpoint)
An immersive dance piece with explosive femininity
There are many performances this Fringe that boast they can transport audiences to some strange, otherworldly place, but few can pull it off the way that Angel-Monster has. Performed by Australian group Phluxus2 Dance Collective with choreography by Nerida Matthaei, Angel-Monster is a dance performance that pulls you into its neon-pink realm, where strange cobwebbed bags hang from the ceiling, and uncannily flexible performers playfully drag themselves across the floor. It serves as a space to perform the experiences, joys, and fears of being a woman.
The tone of the performance is epitomised in the way they use clothes. The bags are unzipped and clothes come tumbling out, turning the space into a floordrobe. Dressed in nude lingerie, we see the performers struggle against the clothes, roll in them like a choreographed depressive episode, and use them to create the breathtaking final image of the performance. Even when they wear the clothes, it is never in a conventional way. Instead, leggings and sweaters and t-shirts are chaotically strung from limb to limb. The significance of each item is something we only learn at the end of the performance, but the way they interact with them is impactful in itself. To watch them dance, they have angelic grace and razor-sharp precision but look down and it is as though you are watching them perform in a messy bedroom. That roughly describes the tone of Angel-Monster; they have created a performance that is bold and beautiful and polished but never losing touch with the reality of their themes; sexuality, gendered violence, and female empowerment.
Photo Credit: FenLan Photography
The performance leaves much to interpretation, but creates just the right balance between being meaningful and being abstract. Finding that middle ground means that the theme of womanhood is always present, but is treated with appropriate complexity. Some of the themes that consistently come up are individuality and inclusion, sisterhood and community, and a very human sense of inconsistency by contrasting movement that is dynamic and intricate with movement that is stiff, infantile, and flailing. Matthaei’s choreography is incredible, and Phluxus2 as a whole are an exciting company who are all in perfect harmony. They communicate struggles and bonds and emotions in a way that words never could. What more could you ask for? Four stars.
Whispers from the crowd: "It was really powerful and moving."
Angel-Monster will run until August the 29th at Assembly Checkpoint