Dialogue in Skin
Presented by Hands Percussion, Malaysia
Her Majesty’s Theatre – Oz Asia Festival
Billed as an award winning Malaysian drumming troupe, one might have expected a night of vibrant, uplifting drumming and choreography. Unfortunately however, it took nearly 35 minutes to build up enough intensity and exhilaration in the audience to get any significant applause, and it was then we all realised the company was actually finishing up for the interval.
The anti-climax of the first act meant for an uncertain wait for the start of the second, which began even slower than the first with a single performer doing uncomplicated yogic poses on top of a drum, to the recorded sound of dripping water. Water torture it was too, evident in the audiences shuffling, whispering and coughing, and the relief which came from the vibrant upbeat ring from a spectator’s mobile phone.
The written program is very descriptive, but far more has been imagined into the writing than the actual choreography which is lackluster at best. Silence is cleverly used to build intensity throughout the performance, but too often in the wrong places, killing any build up before it has reached its crescendo.
The drummers appeared to be missing their personalities and often look bored by the exercise. Anyone in the audience, who had seen the drumming performance by Japanese troupe Drum Tao, would have considered this production amateur at best.
The skill level from some of the drummers was very high, but routines went on too long, were poorly structured and uninspiring.
The non-descript set is fine in theory, as it puts the focus on the vibrant instruments and costumes but far too much of the performance was staged at the back of the space. Diversifying their routines so much and including electric guitars, sitars, and contemporary drum kits gave an interesting touch to the sound, but made the performance feel too eclectic, and failed to support the Malaysian drumming theme.
This production has a long way to go if it hopes to rival other drum troupe companies. With no preconceptions or drumming background it might have been possible to enjoy moments of this show, but unfortunately this time, it did not hit the mark.
26 Sep 2010
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