Review: Intimate Space

Using the iconic Hilton Hotel as its live canvas, Intimate Space is a stunning exploration of the balance between the realms of public and private.

Presented by Adelaide-based Restless Dance Theatre, each audience member of a cosy party of ten is ‘checked in’ to the show’s fictional hotel upon arrival and eventually ushered as a group around the Hilton. Along the way, guests encounter a series of brief vignettes depicting varying displays of intimacy from the performers, communicated primarily through dance and movement. Featuring a majority of dancers with disabilities, the piece addresses and explores the stigma surrounding disability in a way that is tactful, confronting, and tremendously emotional.

The performance’s voyeurism almost reached the point of discomfort at times, which is precisely what lends it its idiosyncratic nature. By appropriating a public space with unsuspecting patrons of the hotel becoming a vital element to the performance’s backdrop, the boundary between observer and observed is eroded, leaving the viewer questioning their place in the act — in a world where emotions are oft repressed, is one to watch or look away? The relationship between performer and audience is simultaneously challenged as cast members break physical boundaries with viewers, occasionally brushing an observer’s shoulder, taking their hand to lead them or making direct eye contact.

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Paired with the adept use of creative lighting and an original soundtrack composed by Jason Sweeney that ebbs and flows hypnotically from portable speakers, Intimate Space is an absolutely remarkable experience. The demanding logistics of hosting a roving show in an enormous hotel were executed superbly, with each cast member bringing an endearing and unique touch to the piece. While little was spoken, a great deal was said.

Intimate Space was performed on Saturday, March 4 at the Hilton Hotel Adelaide and will continue there as a part of Adelaide Festival until March 19.

Photography: Shane Reid

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