Where the Heart Is

Playhouse Theatre (Expressions Dance Company)


This production is a searing exposition of what it means to explore ones home where the heart is.

Universal in its meaning, it is also exquisitely local in its Brisbane-based experience. The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh observed that all great art is parochial; so it is with this journey into the emotions of childhood and young adulthood.

This is Natalie Weirs first full-length work as artistic director of Expressions Dance Company. It builds significantly on her pilot work performed in August 2009 at the Judith Wright Centre.

Weirs work draws on David Maloufs celebrated Brisbane-based novel 12 Edmonstone Street. Weir captures in dance the mystery articulated by Malouf: Except that memory, in leading us back, has turned us about. Memory is deeper than we are and has longer views.

The audience goes on a journey with a young man (danced passionately by Richard Causer) as he re-visits his childhood home and relives challenging conflict with his father (Ryan Males) and the tender joys of interaction with his sweetheart (Samantha Mitchell).

Central to the emotional richness of the drama is his mother (Riannon McLean). In a commanding performance she holds together the storm and tempest of this fraught family. McLean demonstrates not only virtuosity in dance but also deep warmth and strength in her roles as wife and mother in moments when it seems that the centre cannot hold.

Just as Maloufs novel Johnno has come to be a Brisbane literary classic, so this work will become a classic of modern Brisbane dance.

The music of John Rodgers is performed live by Mark Hannaford (piano), Erkkie Veltheim (strings) and Pearly Black (vocals). There is an earthiness and an immediacy to their music.

Weir has a knack of expressing in dance the ideas and emotions of literature, just as she did in her earlier work Glass Heart based on Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights.

This conversation between the world of letters and the world of dance can only be good for the arts in Brisbane.

Choreography by Natalie Weir
Music by John Rodgers
Design by Bruce McKinven
Lighting Design by Matt Scott
Text Excerpts from 12 Edmonstone Street by David Malouf
Duration: 70 minutes (no interval)
Playing from Friday 28 May 2010 to Saturday 5 June 2010

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Wed 2nd June 2010)