Grace Edwards

Freelance writer – creative – media-maker

Review: Published: Chunky Move – Black Marrow

Melbourne International Arts Festival
Season: 21-24 October 2009, 8pm, the CUB Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre
Tickets: or 9685 5111

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland inhabited by nightmarish mutants, Chunky Move’s latest offering, Black Marrow, presented a frightening vision of the future and a confronting reminder of humanity’s ancient roots. At least its best moments did.

Questioning our troubled relationship with the planet, and our primal origins, Black Marrow opened with a visually stunning, if terrifying, depiction of the earth. Enveloped in darkness, with only Australian- Icelandic composer Ben Frost’s disturbing minimalist score for company, the barely-clad dancers moved as though they were half-human, half-monster – twisting, flexing and wrestling with each other as though some unnatural presence was attempting to burst from their skins. The imagery in this section was brilliant, a pulsing heart formed by the dancers’ bodies simply typical of the many powerful moments provided by choreographers Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet in the opening.

From this point onwards, however, Black Marrow ran out of steam. In an attempt to inject some humour into the heavy subject matter, the commanding introduction was replaced by a comic monologue which seemed to dilute rather than liven up the theme. Abruptly awoken from our dystopian fantasy, we were instead invited to sniff petrol and relax, for after all, the end was nigh.

This pattern of juxtaposing the serious with the droll continued throughout, which was unfortunate as there were otherwise many exceptionally imaginative sections that could have carried the show on their own. These highlights presented us with an unstoppable human machine in which the dancers comprised the levers and hinges, heavy-metal inspired scenes in which striking hybrid designs from Alexander Mein visually illuminated our dependence on petrol, and poetic moments in which the dancers roll around and slip on a black liquid resembling oil, on the one hand desiring the substance and on the other, dragged down by it.

In essence, Black Marrow is a work of amazing talent and creativity, let down by a lack of lucid direction. Two parts drama and one part comedy, this programme from Chunky Move though at times brilliant, might have worked better as two different shows rather than one.

Published in Trespass Magazine at
Photos courtesy of Proud Mother Pictures


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This entry was posted on October 23, 2009 by in arts, Black Marrow, Chunky Move, melbourne international arts festival, Reviews.
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