Riding solo last Thursday night at the Malthouse said less about the pitch I gave friends and family about opening night of Intimacy and more about my social standing. As I opened the heavy burgundy doors that lead to the foyer I sighed…. I had failed to recruit anyone to be my plus 1, platonic or otherwise.
The Tower Theatre is a space of the Malthouse I didn’t know existed so I was pleased to be exploring uncharted territory at least. I will say this though, had I known I was going to be walking on a grated entrance to the playhouse, a few storeys up, I would have rethought such precarious heels. Suddenly my fear of plummeting to my death outweighed my feelings of loneliness and abandon. These feelings were appropriate however, for the subject matter explored in Torque Show’s latest production showing at Malthouse until the 23rd of this month.
I was suitably grumpy when I took my seat, which is always (by contrast) a good mood to do a review as it tests the transcendental qualities of the material. The set intrigued me and my spirits were lifted as a glittery woman in a full-length silver gown dazzled with sultry songs form a bygone era. The woman was singer, Emma Bathgate and her command of the music but also the comedy was indeed a highlight of the show. She sauntered across the stage with abandon and sat with the audience at choice moments- and I loved her. Bathgate and fellow musician Simon Eszeky make up the musical duo Lavender v Rose and their music could only be described as deliciously post-modern. The sounds were both eerie and lush and I found myself wanting to know when they were next performing.
True to form, I had no idea what this show would bring me in terms of narrative (I’d only read the necessary info to get me to the theatre on time) and had I been searching for one, I would have been disappointed. Intimacy was more a stream of consciousness and unlike productions I’ve seen in a similar vein which are often hit and miss, I thought this production was humorous, vulnerable and visually exciting. The visuals were made exhilarating through a brilliant culmination of sophisticated and unique choreography; staging; lighting and costume design- all highlights for me. It was one of the few shows I’ve seen where the lighting absolutely enhanced the costume design so kudos to lighting designer John Ford and Adrienne Chisholm who did both the set and costumes.
My primary criticism of this play was that it was too short. It had just started to get really compelling and then it ended abruptly, making it very bottom-heavy, if you will. Michelle Ryan and Vincent Crowley were excellent and I was enthused to discover how personal the story was in my post-play research. Michelle Ryan, who plays a heightened version of herself in the play, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the peak of her dancing career. The play explored some of the more vulnerable moments in life and I revelled in the humour that was located in these moments. The production really captured the comedy, absurdity and indeed loneliness that intimacy can encompass.
Upon reflection, it was a really solid piece of theatre that has come back to me numerous times over the week (always a good sign). I just wish a) I didn’t see it alone (although in hindsight this was poignant and b) that it lasted a little bit longer.