My final event at HOME’s Orbit Festival is Domestica from Sleepwalk Collective.  It’s been an incredible few weeks and this is a strong show with which to finish.  So much so that I see it twice, over consecutive evenings.

Domestica is like a favourite painting that you return to again and again.  You sit in front of the tableau that they create, and you watch as they form a sequence of images.  You listen to their arguments, some direct, some ironic.  You feel something that might be the same as the person next to you, or might not.  To the casual observer, it is possible that very little happens, and yet in my own world, this is something very important.  It resonates, and I feel deeply.

There is a manifesto of sorts, a declaration that what will follow will be boring, as in a painting.  An invitation to the audience to be the show.  They lay out numbered markers, some with props, and invite us to imagine these as specific elements.  A severed head, a nude, all the saints.  There is a feeling that in front of us, they have the power to create anything.  And yet, as women, they point out that they are limited in what they have historically been able to create.  Stereotypes of Chekhov’s three sisters, women forever leading boring lives waiting for men to decide their fate. Except of course in this piece of art they do choose to decide their own fate.

It’s a feast of styles, spoken word combined with set pieces that are at times held for a very long time.  Perfectly choreographed, loud pulsing sound and backlit haze, all beautifully lit.  We watch, as if we stand in front of a painting.  And yet we’re watching something in transition,  a railing against the familiar portrayal of women in art.  A call for women to be shown in a way that is equal to men.  It’s a fantastically dense production and classical references are thrown up continually, your eyes forever darting between text projected on a screen top right, the performance of one or all of the cast in the middle, and three television screens to the far left of the stage.  It’s a piece that I would choose to see again and again.


photo credit Alex Brenner

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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