REVIEW: OCKHAM’S RAZOR

Ockham

Showing at the Seymour Centre until 26 January

Reviewed by University of Sydney student Nena Serafim (Master of Media Practice)

Ockham’s Razor is a medieval philosophical theory that suggests the simplest answer is oftentimes the best. This idea is central to the aerial acrobatics of the critically acclaimed Ockham’s Razor Theatre Company, who specialise in crafting innovative productions focused on using simple elements such as the human body, air and aerial equipment to narrate deeply moving stories about human relationships.

The powerful visual narrative is presented in a triple bill, each exploring different aspects of the human condition. The first act, Arc investigates the volatility of a love triangle set against a shipwreck, reminiscent of Gericault’s Raft of Medusa, only it is not physical starvation that plagues the performers but emotional isolation. The jealously and rivalry physically destabilises the upturned raft, presenting a simple metaphor that the audience can quickly decipher. The performers contrast this experience by coordinating the use of their weight to still the rocking foundations, showing the powerful effect friendship and cooperation can have on the most ‘shaky’ circumstances. While Memento Mori presents an alluring and sensual dance with death, performed as a duet with two figures suspended on a metal swing embracing one another passionately and violently until the end. It’s the most powerful and confronting of the acts because it plays on the two aspects of human nature we have no control over – love and death.

Acrobatically, the third act Every Action is the most stunning and skillful, a welcome relief from the intensity of Memento Mori as it combines flight with elements of mime to symbolise how every action has an opposite and equal reaction. Using a 25 metre rope suspended from pulleys, each aerialist participates in a tug of war with their rival, resulting in some brilliantly choreographed slapstick humour. However, it’s the actions of all four aerialists clambering and effortlessly swinging from the ropes that draw the most excitement and shock from the audience.

Arguably, what the Ockham Theatre Company demonstrates most beautifully is the power of the human body. Watching the performers contort and glide over the ropes, seemingly defying gravity and performing acts of great physical strength highlights what can be achieved through discipline and focus, something the troupe excel at, never missing a beat throughout the entire 80 minutes.

Equally moving is the musical composition by Patrick Larley, emotive and raw, channelling aspects of Nick Cave’s instrumental work with Warren Ellis. In the slowly moving opening act the dark and melancholy soundtrack provides significant insight into the emotional state of the characters and helps to flesh out the scene.

While the music is perfectly adapted to each act, the lengthy intervals between each scene are extremely distracting and break-up the flow of the action. While it must take time to set up scenes of this complexity, the audience is left somewhat frustrated and fidgety in their seats wondering if there has been a technical issue.
Ockham’s Razor aims to delight, entertain, emotionally engage and surprise and it does this perfectly, demonstrating that the art of aerial theatre has a rich experience to offer both young and older viewers.

Ockham's Razor
York Theatre, Seymour Centre
21 to 26 January