Adelaide College of the Arts. X Space, Light Square - 6 April 2011.

3D11 comprises two short theatrical pieces devised and manifested by the final year acting, tech production and design students.

The first show, entitled It Started With Swing, was a real corker – a very professional and highly polished dance and pantomime number.  It’s the end of the 30s and life is good.  The musical beats create a heady sexually charged atmosphere on the dance floor as the six actors, dressed to the nines, perform a superb exhibition of jitterbug and swing.  I mean these cats got it all – those nervous initial moments of boy meets girl, broad non-stop smiles that make it all look too easy, sharp gestures and sultry expressions.  You had to hold be back from jumping up and jiving with them!

Of course the war intervenes and lovers and newlyweds are roughly separated.  Fabulous use is made of shadow projections on a white screen.  Housewives appear to be victims of a skivvy while the real men are in combat.  The final scene is nearly unbearable.  One lass waits for her man to return whilst another receives only dog tags and another her beau.  Her anxiety is almost unbearable.

Bravo!  This show is already road worthy.  The detail in the performances was flawless, the costumes and hair styles were spot-on and the lighting and design created the appropriate illusions.

The second show, The Devil’s Mirror and Its Fragments, got off to a rocky start in the lobby.  The actors emerged from a heavy wooden crate with Quasimodo movements and uncertain intentions.  Some possibly important narration kicked off the story before the audience was beckoned into a studio space and seated themselves in a round.  After a friendship is established between a boy and girl, he succumbs to a spell, is taken away by the Snow Queen (Snow Queen?  That sounds familiar), and the quest is on by the other.  She has many Alice in Wonderland adventures including talking plants, felines, mad stalkers and the Snow Queen herself.  Again, the physical work was very impressive (I’ll never forget the triffids), but it must be hard to concoct an original fairy tale as this one seemed a pastiche of several.  The compositions played by the performers were suitable and helped transport us on the journey.  The longer it went on the more I wanted to see.  I never thought that voice training was strong at the school and this performance hasn’t changed my mind.  Great use was made of exotic costumes, lighting effects and theatrical effects like the Phillipe Genty-style ice castle, and a fish tank river complete with a voyage on a raft.  While the first show was all spit and polish, this one was a bit feral, but no less inventive.  

It is interesting to note the huge emphasis on physical movement in both these pieces.  A word with Jenn Havelberg, the movement instructor at the school, revealed that she provided the kids no mentor ship whatsoever for these productions – they independently from her applied what they have been taught over the years.  This is a tremendous complement to the strength of the physical performance program at the school.  Also, there were no mobile phones, no computers or mixed media in these productions.  Instead they presented a nostalgic reference to 40s and a fairy tale utilising, very effectively, classic theatrical devices.  If I were you, I wouldn’t miss this incredibly energetic and entertaining night out.

David Grybowski