Bunk at the P.A.C

November 4, 2013


Should it be a point of concern for Paper Dolls that, in spite of being amongst the country’s foremost aerial circus artists, (and probably the best known for a younger generation) that what occurs around the acrobatics here is what really captures our imagination?

The startling sight of a girl being dragged by her hair, eyes dead but open; a girlish but ghoulish chase around a four poster bed, scissors snapping in light, then torch strewn darkness; when combined with a distorted sound scape, laced with interference and twangy, off kilter guitar, the right tone is struck for a production that aims to explore sleep and what ails it.

Taking disorders like sleep paralysis and night terrors as their starting point, the winding and unspooling of the performers bodies in and out of knots is the perfect metaphor for the unconscious mind and what it does to us as we lay our head down to sleep. A self-consuming bed surmises the strangled panic of regaining consciousness but not the ability to move ones muscles; a precarious walk across broken springs acts like a metaphor for that thin line between wake and sleep for the fitful sleeper, while the dragging and gagging of one performer from her perch is a strong visualisation of the overwhelming power of nightmares.

There is also a strong ode to the master of horror, Dario Argento, in the shadowplay and the use of Gothic fairy tale, particularly his 1977 masterpiece, Susperia (WATCH IT).

What’s missing is a sense of connection between the individual segments. True it mirrors the discombobulation that makes up a night’s sleep but it can often make the aerial work seem a little random and, as impressive as it may be, it can leave us all too unsure as to what they are trying to project.

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