Adelaide Festival Review: Dirtday!

DirtdayPresented by Pomegranate Arts
Reviewed Sunday 3rd March 2013

The magnificent Laurie Anderson is simply mesmerising in her one-woman concert, Dirtday! On a stage littered with candles she is at once comedic, political, thought-provoking and enthralling.

Over the past 30 years or more, Anderson has mastered the pause, adding intrigue and punch to her every sentence, and her skewed view of life delivers the unexpected at every turn. She is a songwriter, musician, and gifted storyteller whose spoken word poems, set to ethereal soundscapes, are potent observations of life.

She toys with perception, not only with her lyrics, but through sound. Her electronic violin sings in its own right, and the atmosphere takes on a vibrant, dreamy undertone through her mastery of the keyboard and electronic devices. A simple pillow speaker placed in her mouth makes her own voice sing like a violin, while a flick of a switch gives her voice a deep, sleepy pitch.

Dirtday! relies on words a lot more than Anderson’s usual style, where music and sound tell the story, supported only occasionally by well-chosen words. Nonetheless, here she reveals her true storytelling gifts, whether standing at her podium controlling sound effects and music, or sitting in a sofa chair reminiscing about relatives. She shares YouTube clips of her belated rat terrier, Lolabelle, who had learned to play keyboard, and discusses her ultimate death.

Her eclectic meanderings are endearing but often subtly pointed, delivering powerful messages without a hint of preaching. Her visits to Australia are sadly rare, but her name is one worth exploring online.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis, Performing Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.

Adelaide Festival page

Laurie Anderson’s website

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season ended
Duration: 90 minutes

Photo credit: Lucie Jansch

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