A mercurial mix of constantly changing movement and text, image and association - this is the stuff from which Castles is made.

Produced by the Australian cross-disciplinary company House of Sand and well performed by Eliza Sanders, this is a show which defies any normal logic. It is immersive and engaging, and you have to admire Sanders' performance, even while you are puzzling over what it all adds up to or whether it adds up to anything at all.

There are clearly demarcated sections marked by lighting and costume changes, and at various times, Sanders is accompanied by tracks from Alt-J, Opus 7 and Opus 28 by Dustin O'Halloran, and and Kate Bush. She manipulates patchworked fabric in several intriguing ways but that's where standard theatricality ends and associative logic takes over.

Sanders is constantly and restlessly moving, with changing dynamics, levels and directions. It's mostly abstract movement with occasional flickers of something referential. She rolls and stretches, tilts and tips over, prances, kicks high or extends a languid limb.


At times, she seems to be shackled by chains or wrapped in a straightjacket and, at others, she is a barking dog straining at the leash or a giant spider lurking at the centre of a web of bunting.

She sings in a clear confident voice, her own version of songs but she also sings snatches of song from Nick Cave, Kate Bush and Regina Spektor with altered lyrics.

Singing becomes talking, chanting, orating and the text becomes even stranger; a constant, restless torrent of consciousness pouring from her mouth delivered with strange inflections at times or with facial contortions to stretch the words or chop them off.

Though words and phrases repeat, they never seem to add up to anything meaningful, and I wonder if perhaps that's what it's all about - that life's mosaic of experiences is often hard to make sense of.

What: Auckland Fringe Festival - Castles by House of Sand (Australia)
Where & when: Basement Theatre, until Saturday
Reviewed by: Raewyn Whyte