Rubiks Collective | A Book of Hours
14th Sep 2023, Sylvia Staehli Theatre, Dancehouse, Carlton Vic
Ticking. Time. Wind-up toys. Toothbrushes. Clocks. A harpsichord. These, combined with much more, brought the audience on a bizarre, absurdist adventure that explored time and motion through film, movement, sound, and music.
A Book of Hours is a collaboration between Gerard Van Dyck (choreography/movement), Sal Cooper (animation/visual media), and Kate Neal (music/sound). Alongside them were Melbourne-based contemporary art music ensemble, Rubiks Collective, consisting of Tamara Kohler (flutes), Kaylie Melville (percussion), Jacob Abela (keyboards), and Gemma Kneale (cello).
The stage is set with an array of musical instruments, within a circle of light on the floor. A screen sits behind this setup, and this was where a day is played out through the choreography and movement of Van Dyck. The film was shot in stop-motion, interspersed with footage of clocks, wind-up toys, bottles, and other everyday objects.
Accompanying the digital projection was Rubiks Collective with their incredible assortment of instruments: flutes, cello, harpsichord, piano, a wide variety of percussion, midi-keyboards, and an assortment of wind-up toys, midi-keyboards. This allowed for an intriguing exploration of the concept of time, alongside a sonorous interpretation of what was being projected on the screen. The constant ticking away of a clock came through all the different parts and was highlighted in the harpsichord with Jacob playing Couperin and Rameau.
Not only did the ensemble show mastery of their instruments, but their ability to well execute the theatrical antics required for the performance meant that the audience was thoroughly immersed in the narrative that was being played out on the screen. During the first half, a moment of hilarity for the audience ensured when members of the ensemble started to rhythmically brush their teeth. This culminated in synchronised teeth brushing between all four members of the ensemble.
The ebb, flow and passing of time beautifully played out in this performance, through rotating musicians, movement, and a moment of seriously playing midi keyboards with various effects including breaking, clattering, and alarm like sounds. The whole performance came to a chaotic climax, both through the actual music and the antics of the ensemble. Musicians dashed to play from one instrument to another, resulting in several Rubiks Collective members doubling on piano and harpsichord – another highlight of the performance.
A Book of Hours was a spectacular intertwining of artforms. A delightful experience. It was a success at combining elements of live and recorded performance into something that was both clever and entertaining for all.
Guest reviewer: Carissa Dyall
Photo credit – Darren Gill