OzAsia festival 2017 – SEVER – Elder Hall – 2K

By Tom Eckert

GUAN GONG_preview

Sever by David Harris and Zooma is a collaborative project between the two aforementioned and the Shanghai Peking Opera.

The central premise is a juxtaposition of the old world in the form of the traditional and narrative historical characters of Peking Opera. Guan Yu (pictured) and Diao Chan, with the modern world. Perhaps a comment on one of the most prevalent cliches about China presently.

This is accomplished through a film produced by the previously mentioned individuals that utilises performers from the Shanghai Peking Opera performing in the traditional format, but placed squarely into modern Shanghai and the misadventures that arise from that.

This is supported in real time by a band that mixes instrumentalists and singers from the Shanghai Peking Opera as well as Zooma and his band which have a decidedly more modern makeup, using electric guitars, drum kit and saxophone.

The contrast makes for an interesting experience and is quite entertaining. Much of the film is concerned with the progressive denigration of Guan Yu’s dignity as he finds himself by turn stripped of his regalia, missing a shoe, losing his make-up and ultimately working as a farm hand before rediscovering his former glory.

The nature of the performance is very context heavy and, as it is sung in Mandarin, difficult for non-speakers to follow the story. However it was entertaining nonetheless.

The entire company are evidently extremely proficient performers and musicians. They did however misstep in the second half of the performance where, after the film, Zooma and his band went on to perform their own material as well as experiment with the combination of this and the styling of the Peking Opera. The music was certainly good, but their rock-jazz fusion style was really quite simply not suited to the audience they has attracted with the first half, nor the venue as it would have been more at home in one of Adelaide’s many performing bars. As a result the whole performance fell a bit flat.

Kryztoff rating: 2K


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