Review: monumental – The Holy Body Tattoo

Monumental is challenging, visceral, beautiful, brutal, and unlike anything you have ever seen before.

A commentary on the anxieties of an urban existence explored through dance and movement, the show begins with eight performers frozen in a tableau atop their own white box positioned neatly onstage. One member’s fidgeting breaks the stillness, and what ensues is nothing less than chaos: each dancer, dressed in restrictive black and white corporate-wear, begins to twitch and writhe on their platform, frenetically scratching their arms, mussing their hair, bending down mechanically only to shoot back up and repeat the process again. Arms flail, dancers fall off their box to clamber back up, and bodies shake, spontaneous yet at times in mesmerising unison. Meanwhile, the melancholy sound of strings and a guitar echo in the background – a second curtain rises and reveals Godspeed You! Black Emperor positioned behind the troupe. Together, the dancers and musicians take the audience on a confronting journey into the darkest depths of humanity when faced with the anonymity of a corporate nightmare-world. The performance is enhanced by exceptional lighting interspersed with hypnotic projections of wind-farms, a time-lapse of a frantic city expressway, and bite-sized offerings of text that add to the profundity of the experience. Both hailing from Canada, the Holy Body Tattoo is an esteemed contemporary dance company while post-rock collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor is regarded as one of the most influential bands in its genre, boasting a devoted cult following. Onstage, their respective art forms fuse into something electrifying and magnificent – the thumping drums and ululating guitar lines reverberate through the theatre so loudly that it is nearly tangible, and when paired with the agitated energy of the troupe, make for an unforgettable performance that pervasively etches itself into the viewer’s mind. monumental is not an easy performance to witness – it is harsh, unforgiving and at times cruel as the actors shift from expressions of intimacy and love to acts of violence, fury and selfishness. However, its intensity will leave a lasting impression on viewers and prompt an uncomfortable form of self-reflection on one’s own place in the chaotic modern world. 4 stars monumental took place at the Festival Theatre on Friday, March 4 as a part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. adelaidefestival.com.au

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