Hofesh Shechter's Grand Finale brought visions of an apocalyptic future to a stage drenched in dense haze which roiled as if laden with dust and grit.
Coloured at times in acid hues associated with toxic chemical fires and devoid of any hint of flora or fauna, this was a bleak void, a place of last resort. Ten inhabitants of this place moved restlessly and almost continuously through a landscape littered by moveable panels, shifting these to create sheltering walls, communal rooms, claustrophobically tiny cells and personal niches.
Their movement was vigorous, dynamic, driven, an intricate pastiche of folk and tribal dance, rave culture, sports and military drills, mixed in with everyday movements. Most often, their restless prowling seemed without purpose, simply a way of filling in the hours until the end of life.
Despite the aura of threat, violence and desperation, this seemed a kinder, gentler world than usually depicted. There were moments of great beauty and flickers of rapture and joy mixed in with periods of partying and celebration and some quiet moments of meditation and prayer. But the awareness of ultimate doom slowly increased, and grim motifs soon dominated interactions.
Five musicians also featured as performers in this work, moving about the stage while playing live classical music by Lehar, Tchaikovsky and Zaldwich and post-classical music composed by Shecter, intermixed with his pre-recorded percussive and, at times, booming and howling score.
During intermission they entertained the crowd with raucous, jolly klezmer music, much to everyone's delight. The opening night audience honoured the vitality and commitment of the work's performers with a standing ovation.
What: Auckland Arts Festival - Grand Finale
Where & when: Aotea Centre, ASB Theatre