(Collusion at Visy Theatre)


Collusion: n fraudulent secret agreement

Evocation: n calling up of memories, feelings, responses

There may be some purists left in the world who think that Collusion’s philosophy of mixing “pure” music with other art forms is fraudulent, but they’re probably the same people who wouldn’t dream of drinking Lapsang Souchong tea before 4 o’clock in the afternoon, or eating their cake with a spoon. Rules are rules, they believe, and it’s not up to the young to break them.

But this energetic and talented young group of musicians know that art is always changing and moving on, a process which needn’t lead to falling standards or lack of respect, and their way of combining the work of composers like Benjamin Britten, Andre Previn and the wonderful Ned Rorem with clowning, masks and dance is, at times, simply sublime.

When soprano Alana Scott comes on stage, standing stock still in a simple white dress to sing Britten’s “How sweet the answer” to Therese Milanovic’s piano accompaniment, we might think we’re in for a night of pure modern classics, but then she’s joined by Timothy Munro and his magic flute, along with three mask dancers, and the performance switches to two poems, by Su Tung P’o and our own Jena Woodhouse, set to music by another Brisbane composer, Betty Beath, and we’re in an entirely different world.

And so it goes on to New York Nocturnes by David Schiff, composed only five years ago, which is where the idea of evocation comes in, for this four-section instrumental piece conjures up memories of blues, jazz, ballads and even honky-tonk, and your mind is set free to wonder, remember, imagine and drift away, like those Twining’s Tea ads where a reverie is set in motion just by watching sunbeams shining on falling dust, or the light shining on a slow-dripping tap.

Music, concerts, performances this exquisite show reminds us that we don’t always have to pay attention, follow every note, or work out the meaning of a piece. Sometimes it’s just as useful, and far more satisfying, just to sit back and let it wash all over you — although the four-year-old who was falling about in hysterics at the clown ballet wouldn’t agree, I’m sure. His face was glowing with joy at the end of the performance, which just goes to show that there’s more than one way to enjoy the conjunction of different art forms.

Top marks to Collusion for this ground-breaking piece of music theatre. Keep an eye on their up-coming productions their website is www.collusion.com.au.

Playing Friday and Saturday 4 and 5 February 2005 at 8pm

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes including interval

Producer Joon-Yee Kwok, Director Karlo Bran

— Alison Cotes
(Performance seen: Wed 2nd February 2005)