Cold Blood is perfect arts festival fare, a marvellous and richly surreal series of live cinema microstories about sudden death which nevertheless help us to embrace the joys of living.
Made by performers using only their fingers and hands, the show is filmed live, in real time, on a darkened stage under the direction of choreographer Michele Anne De Mey and director/filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael. A series of miniature sets, lighting, cameras and special effects devices are constantly re-positioned by a team of 10 collaborators, with the action projected onto an overhead screen.
Giant fingers become surrogate people; caress and stroke parts of bodies, stride through city streets, and search for survivors in a forest plane crash. Loners long for the loving intimacy that others enjoy. In a salute to inspirational movies of earlier eras which have influenced the team, there are scenes of a burning wartime city glowing with fire and destruction, a glitzy sparkling nightclub with tap dancing showgirls and a noirish strip joint, replete with pole dancers.
There's always plenty happening on stage but even so, the mysterious stories quickly prove absorbing and the projected images are enticing. You can watch the performers and crew at work, admiring their utter concentration and split-second timing and the ways in which everyone is magically in the right place before they appear on screen – or you can let the entrancing images become your focus.
A wry, almost deadpan voiceover, scripted by Thomas Gunzig, offers an ongoing stream of consciousness throughout, with the stories supplemented by observations, questions, social commentary and occasional jokes.
Carefully chosen music accompanies each scene, ranging from Lou Reed and Nina Simone to Schubert and Ravel. Perfect Day is partnered with a terrible car wash experience involving cold blood, and David Bowie's Space Oddity provides a nostalgic setting for the finale.
An utterly marvellous night out – a total treat.
What: Auckland Arts Festival - Cold Blood
Where: ASB Waterfront Theatre.
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte