There is a significant risk with the more abstract pieces of theatre in that they can fall into the realm of being pretentious. Usually, I get frustrated and often bored by trying to work out the meaning or the story when I consider a piece of work pretentious. Thankfully, I didn’t feel this way about Le Sacré. I didn’t necessarily understand the story until I read the program and only then could I loosely tie some things together, but it didn’t distract my enjoyment of the piece.
Le Sacré is the inaugural collaborative work between NICA and The Australian Ballet School. A 44 person cast containing students from both companies have created a dynamic and often exciting piece of theatre which explores the creation and destruction of human life.
Upon walking into the theatre we are greeted by a dark and dingy soundscape, which I absolutely loved, and a set complete with maypole and stretch fabric. The ropes on the maypole and the fabric were coloured in pink, green and yellow, which were later complimented by many of the cast whose costumes had pops of the same colour amongst their blacks and greys.
The opening of the show starts with the ‘cuddle puddle’ which consists of almost all the members of the company walking onto stage slowly and laying down to form a puddle. It was an interesting start but probably a little too long. The most notable scene in Act One for me was called ‘Abduction.’ The scene involved a number of skipping ropes and cast members performing various tricks throughout. There was so much ‘wow factor’ involved in the scene and it gradually got bigger and bigger and more exciting as it progressed. However I mostly admired the contingency plans when something went wrong and with skipping ropes the potential for a mistake is high, however when a mistake was made, it was tied in beautifully and was one of my favourite scenes.
I occasionally found scenes jarring. In particular, moments where the soundscape stopped and the final scene of Act One. The soundscape was fantastic, however when it stopped it was strangely obvious, I would have liked there to be something under these moments, even if it was barely audible. The final scene of Act One started with one cast member yelling “It’s party time” and a strange dance scene. I found it so jarring that I was pulled from the production and remembered I was watching a production rather than being caught up in the story.
Déjà vu struck at the start of Act Two, in that it felt much the same as the start of the show. However this moved into another spectacular scene called ‘Mystic Circles/Cat Walk’. This scene featured heaps of hula hoops coupled with four Cyr wheel’s that was simply stunning. The soundtrack matched it beautifully. Evocation of the Ancestors was a touching scene with a story told by one of the company and acrobats on the straps and slings. It was the most cleverly put together scene where all elements complimented each other perfectly.
The minor issue for me in the production were the lack of cohesion between scenes, which could have been because there were three directors, or simply because collaborative pieces don’t always have a clear thread. Also, the final moment of the show with circus music was another jarring moment that made the ending feel disjointed. I feel like I need review this production and score it as a professional piece rather than a student piece. There is no doubt these two organizations have unbelievably talented students that have worked incredibly well together and created a beautiful piece of theatre. They should be incredibly proud.