Dust Palace’s The Goblin Market is a refreshing piece to have in Vancouver theatres this season. It is a truly multi-media piece that includes spoken text, music, singing, dance, an divinely crafted set, and phenomenal acrobatics that left me bewildered.
While entering the theatre, I was met with one of the actors (Edward Clendon), who was strutting down the isle and sexually fondling a kiwi. Yes, you read that right. Many pieces of fruit faced the same fate as Clendon showed them to audience members while either laughing, crying or being sexually stimulated. Meanwhile, the other actresses (Eve Gordon and Rochelle Mangan were making her way through the audience (literally through the seats), glaring at audience members lustfully, and laying sprawled out on the stage. This resulted in the audience being engaged before the show had even begun. These introductions however, didn’t really give an accurate picture of what the show was going to be about. The style of the show itself was a surprise for me because this intro set me up for something else. With that said, I still think it was an effective way to get the audience out of their heads and ready to expect anything.
Of course, I need to talk about the movement pieces that made up the majority of the show, because they were absolutely captivating. It was evident that these performers have dedicated their lives to their craft and it shows in their breathtaking aerial work and their awe-inspiring strength. The pieces that were especially impactful were Clendon’s silk piece, and the dance between the two sisters (Gordon and Mangan) at the end. These pieces were a beautiful blend of extreme athleticism, and true artistic brilliance.
The actual story of the piece served the movement pieces well and allowed lots of space for exploration, however I found the story to be not very cohesive. I didn’t think the narrative was super strong but perhaps it’s wasn’t meant to be. I admit that I did like the mystery of it and the room it left for the audience to interpret and wonder. Some of the acting felt artificial at times and this may have been due to the brief lengths of the scenes and dramatic transitions to and from them. The spoken monologues at the downstage microphone however, added a really nice element and were one of the most enthralling parts of the whole piece.
The scenography also served as a major part of the story, and enhanced the magic on stage significantly. Moving platforms and hanging hoops served not only as crucial structures for the acrobatics, but also transformed the stage into a Tim-Burton-esc space. The use of spotlights and fog made for a dramatic effect right from the beginning. The large projected background also served as a helpful tool in telling the story. Overall, I thought the scenery and lighting design was clever and effective since it both added to the mood on stage and acted practically.
The impeccable talent of the performers, enhanced by the lighting, set and sound design made this piece fascinating. It is definitely a must see for anyone interested in dance and movement, or who needs some refreshing new takes on performance art in Vancouver.
Venue: York Theatre | Tickets: $10-$54 | Dates: October 3-14