Festival Review: Azimut
The cast of Azimut. Photo by Agnes Mellon, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Festival Review: Azimut

Based on the centuries-old tradition of Moroccan acrobatics, this mesmerising blend can only be described as ‘human art’, exploring Sufi traditions with a modern edge.

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The cast of Azimut. Photo by Agnes Mellon, Adelaide Festival of Arts.
The cast of Azimut. Photo by Agnes Mellon, Adelaide Festival of Arts.

Presented by : Compagnie 111 – Aurelien Bory
Reviewed  27 February 2015

Azimut, meaning “the paths” in Arabic, created by Aurelien Bory and directed by David Sefton, opened to a near capacity crowd at the Adelaide Festival Theatre on Friday night. Advertising snapshots of this show give the impression that this is an upmarket, acrobatics show and it kind of is, except it’s much more than that and much harder to categorise.

Based on the centuries-old tradition of Moroccan acrobatics, this mesmerising blend of acrobatics and what can only be described as ‘human art’, explores Sufi traditions with a modern, nouvea cirque edge. On opening, the stage is dark and bare. A lone human enters. The story goes that this loner has reached the heavens, but looking down on earth and its people, decides to rejoin them – and for good reason.

What follows is an eclectic, brilliant, beautiful display of the artistry of the human body. Human-sized sacks sit on the stage, then slowly begin to rise and lower, giving the impression of giant tea-bags being dunked. The stage lighting changes and suddenly, the sacks are no longer visible, just the people inside them, diving and swooping towards the stage and sky.

Sufi singing and live instruments interspersed the various tableau’s and the use of light and dark to alter setting and mood was magical. In one segment, a pregnant woman ‘gives birth’ to a seemingly endless flurry of fully-grown adults. In another, acrobats form human stacks before the stage curtain swallows them whole and they simply disappear.

Performers scale a huge metal grid in a constantly shifting, mesmerising geometric pattern, then freeze so still as to appear like a painting on the wall. Monk-like creatures walk upside down on the ceiling, and ambitious types run so fast they literally fly out over the audience. Cartwheels so leisurely as to appear lackadaisical, suddenly become so fast the performer is a mere blur. And thrill-seekers get their kicks in a tunnel facing an approaching train, then a swarm of bats. Train and bats were both courtesy of tricks of sound and light.

If all of this sounds a bit fantastical, it’s probably because it is. Azimut is experimental theatre, and audience members were left in no doubt this was an Arts Festival, not a Fringe performance. Describing this performance does little to convey the majesty, brilliance and originality of what is a truly unique show. A wonderful way to open the Festival and highly recommended for anyone interested in seeing something that is quite indescribable.

Reviewed by Samantha Bond
Twitter: @sambond

Rating out of 5:  4

Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season:  27-28 February 2015
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $30-$99
Bookings: Book through the Adelaide Festival online or through BASS online, phone 131 246 (booking fees apply)

 

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