Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 29 October 2019
Stuck in the Narrowest Path is an immersive experience of physical theatre, taking its audience on a somewhat violent, uniquely located and sometimes humorous journey through the behind-the-scenes rooms of the Adelaide Festival Centre.
As excited audience members are led from the Dunstan Playhouse foyer outside towards a hidden doorway, murmurs of curiosity begin to spread. After shuffling into a large office space and finally settling in a circle against the walls, the client circling artists begin to encroach on each other until finally a loud ‘slap’ can be heard.
This is when things become startling as the three performers, with stone-cold expressions, start pushing each other, pulling at each other’s clothes and slapping their opponents faces. This grows further into the collision of heads, forceful punching and even jumping on others backs when they fall. The performers are almost constantly touching as they engage in a mesmerising, battle-like dance where the reasoning is unknown, though it appears almost like a constant theatrical battle for dominance.
The level of physical violence is not necessarily overly brutal, but is still shocking and confronting for members of the audience. As the sound of a hard hand smacking open skin echoes throughout the office space, audience members shudder and grimace, almost feeling a phantom pain while taking in the physical acts.
A highlight of Stuck in the Narrowest Path is that it doesn’t simply stay in one spot (this would make the performance become stale quickly), but instead takes the audience on a weaving journey throughout the under-layers of the Adelaide Festival Centre. Not only does it keep the acts fresh as they are placed within new and foreign spaces, but it also allows the audience to explore the many passageways, rehearsal rooms and office spaces of the Festival Theatre which otherwise would remain undiscovered by those outside of the institution. Throughout this journeying movement, the performers do not once speak, but the audience is instead guided by an instructing digital voice emitting from a speaker which is carried above the group on a long stick.
Contact Gonzo, the group behind the strange theatrical experience, are from Osaka, Japan, and found fame through placing their clothing-pulling and face-slapping theatrical brawls on YouTube. They have now performed all around the world such as at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and on our screens in an ad for Nike.
The award-winning Zephyr Quartet, having first come to form in 1999, now are one of Australia’s leading musical explorers of cross-art form collaborations – harmoniously combining with the experimental movement of Contact Gonzo. They have graced many stages worldwide and have performed with notable musicians such as Jóhann Jóhannson, but it is something else to witness their musical magic in their hometown of Adelaide.
Stuck in the Narrowest Path will visually challenge those who are not used to physical theatre, but this quality of performance is well worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.
Reviewed by Georgina
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse foyer, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, 5000
Season: 29 – 31 October 2019
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $30 – $45