Poster image for Down to a Sunless Sea. (supplied)
Lexi Meier presents to us another world, an alien world. It’s tactile and awkward and far, far left of centre. Let’s be honest, Meier’s stuff is weird. It’s disconcerting.
Like cattle, we’re herded up and driven down to where we’re sent through the ‘machine’ for processing.
The installation is made of plastic, the intestine-like tunnel kept in place by hula hoops, the outer casing constructed (handmade) out of hundreds of plastic milk bottles, hessian, and industrial thick sheet plastic. All the materials found on a working dairy farm, you might say…
The choreographed immersive experience (yes, the post-performance note helped!) sees the audience becoming a crucial element of the installation – along with the music, sound, performance art and movement… we make meaning through our presence (literally) in the work.
This can be unnerving for many. Each person’s experience will be vastly different – we bring our preconceived ideas of theatre, and biases to the subject matter… which isn’t overtly stated. Well, it kind of is… the milk bottles, the milk-bottle-cap-creature (Geoffery Smuts) scuttling around. The clinical-nurse-mask wearing being (Sonja Smit) who inspects us before allowing our passing through; ensuring our ‘viability’ before entering the system. Once a cow’s milk production drops, she’s not good enough anymore and is slaughtered. We’re offered milk, decanted from a medical drip bag. Every sip of milk enjoyed contributes to a multi-trillion dollar worldwide industry, one that’s screwing up the planet through intensive farming. Oh, and let’s not forget the cruelty the beasts endure.
With the engaging imagery offered to us, and because of our presence, we can’t switch out and be entertained. We must ask questions; we can’t ignore that in which our own body partakes. And of course, that’s the point. We’re made aware that our presence, our decisions, simply being here, makes the societies and world.
Pre-show, I ask Meier what she wants us to leave with. With a smile she says, “whatever you want to”.
OK then. I left feeling part of a dystopian landscape – not a futuristic sci-fi movie type – but the visceral dystopia of now. Because we’re already living in it if you hadn’t yet noticed. Those creepy, eerie, intimidating, grotesque ‘givers’ of the milk (Kate Pinchuck & Meyrick Tree) – making you think it’s your choice to take the milk or not, – representing the dairy industry, big business… controlling the amount dripped out, giving you just a few sips, just enough to keep you wanting more.
Down to a Sunless Sea is brilliant stuff.
— Sarah Roberson
Down to a Sunless Sea is on again tonight 06 July at PJ’s basement at 19.00. Book here.
Director & choreographer: Lexi Meier
Music Composed & performed by: Geoffery Smuts and Sean Devonport
Featured Artists: Meyrick Tree, Kate Pinchuck, Sonja Smit, Geoffery Smuts & Sean Devonport
Company: Wind Up Mind