Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Melbourne Fringe: Deja Vu (And Other Forms of Knowing)

Photo by Sarah Walker
Last year, Andi Snelling had a bicycle accident; an hour before, she somehow sensed it was going to happen. Deja Vu (And Other Forms of Knowing) is a response to that moment and to all those moments in our lives where we only have intuition or gut-feeling to go on.

Andi’s sold-out show at last year’s Melbourne Fringe, #DearDiary, delved into her past – reading from diaries she has kept all her life. The show was text heavy, pulled directly from her observations of the world around her – at whatever age she was when she experienced them.

This new show is a much more difficult piece to pin down, but no less memorable. We may have laughed at her teenage angst last year, but this year we are grappling with present-day Andi and her attempts to understand the ways we know things without truly understanding them.

The key to this piece is movement; Andi has such an impressive control of her body. The opening scene has her writhing under a swathe of black material, and then emerging from that cocoon. In a way, it’s a recreation of the accident, with arms and legs unnaturally twisted and outstretched.

As the show moves onward, we are treated to a music score and soundscape that is unnerving, even as it samples a song like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – which is usually so comforting. The recurrence of this song communicates so much, without Andi ever saying a word. It’s odd but hilarious.

Every scene is visually striking, with Andi dressed and lit by designer Victoria Haslam. Director Danielle Cresp is collaborating with Andi again and they have such a strong working relationship; Cresp’s guiding hand allows Andi to shine without this very personal show ever feeling indulgent.

If the show itself is about instinct, then so must an audience trust their own instincts in reaction. There’s a delicious sequence where Andi observes the audience, writing her thoughts on a small blackboard. It captures so much about the interaction between an audience and performer, without her having to vocalise a thing.

And movement, of course, is key to our everyday communication and how we are able to sense things without really knowing them. We can understand what Andi’s feeling because of the way she holds herself or the way she withdraws from us or even, in moments, hangs as if suspended, like a puppet on broken strings.

Deja Vu means “already seen” and while you might understand what that phrase means, you’re unlikely to have already seen a show like Deja Vu (And Other Forms of Knowing).

Tickets on sale here.

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