Reviewed by Nadia Freeman

Photo credit: David Vagg

This is no typical dance number meant to distract and delight you with sparkles and clap-along numbers.  Limits sits in the realm of theatre that is to challenge its audience and give them a chance to view what it might be like to step into the shoes of another person. Inspired by her own experience of invisible disability, Bonnie Curtis explores ideas around perceived beauty and functional impairment in her show Limits.

The performance starts with an empty stage and the Creature (Bonnie Curtis) upstage left, sitting at a vanity.  The Creature is trying to master the difficult task of applying lipstick. A ritual many women do in preparation to present themselves to the world.

The performance takes us through the creature’s exploration of themselves and their body.  Walking, gyrating, writhing and working out the fundamentals of every part of movement a body can make. Bonnie is a formidable dancer and pursues the limits of movements through not just her body but fingers, toes and facial expression, often contorting her face to demonstrate the very challenge of being comfortable within one’s skin.

While this is primarily a silent piece there is some speech as the creature mutters to herself about performing different tasks and the recording of phrases that are played, over and over again between tension-building audio design like the rumination of someone sinking into self-doubt.  Other narrative devices are used including the vanity that is moved throughout the performance to new locations, and it starts to feel that this is more than an object to look at one’s reflection, but a burden as they labour to bring it with them through every scene.

Some of the scenes are perhaps longer than they need to be and may benefit from transitioning earlier while others were quite mesmerising including when the creature sits on top of the vanity downstage with their back to the audience and we can see the ripples of Bonnie’s back moving and their reflection in the mirror.  Other scenes use icons of femininity including barbie dolls, shoes and dresses all of which the creature struggles with and eventually finds its own way to fit.

Limits is showing at Te Auaha until Saturday 25th of February at 7.30 pm each night.  You can get your tickets through the Fringe Box Office.