The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Review: Dust Pilgrim

by Mr Goulter on July 7, 2016 in Dance, Theatre

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A dizzying physical poem of theatre, dance, and stagecraft, Red Leap’s Dust Pilgrim comes at you with intriguing immediacy and lingers like an ingenious, puzzling dream.

Devised by the company and directed by founding members Kate Parker and Julie Nolan, the show takes audiences on the journey of Panuelo, a girl whose arrival foreshadowed the disappearance of water and vitality from her world. Adrift in a sea of dust and yoked to mysterious machinery of dangling ropes and ticking clocks, she plots to escape a mother who hates her for driving her father away. But the further Panuelo gets from home, the more the past seems to echo back at her.

Playing out with a thirst for novelty and an energetic disregard for stillness, the show’s quest-narrative neatly expands familial strife into a pilgrim’s progress through the strata of a beguiling fantasy society. This plays out through sparse spoken segments, energetic physical set-pieces, and some ingenious puppetry and costume-work.

With the story comfortably resting on Ella Becroft’s Panuelo, Alison Bruce and Thomas Eason look to have plenty of fun enlivening a series of tropey riffs on parental archetypes. Characters don’t tend to outstay their welcome, and the kooky foreign-ness of the fantasy world treads a keen balance between circus fascination and carnie comedy.

Coming at the end of a successful North Island tour for the production, Dust Pilgrim plays the Te Whaea theatre until the 9th of July.

Tom Goulter

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