Watching, Ceci n’est pas de deux

Seen on July 4, 2016 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

The dimmed lights leave some room for doubt. Is that a body laying on the floor? Bleeps and deep bass intensify the mystery around the yellow corpus that is crawled up like a foetus. Another actor appears and both of them come alive. With a magnificent technique Ester Natzijl moves the puppet around.

The performance is mesmerizing and unsettling. The avatar reminds of Gollem in the Lord of The Rings, tender and your best friend at times, at other times beastly violent, oppressive, destructive. This story of a woman faces with her fears and desires becomes overtly sexual, so much that it gets uncomfortable to watch.

Although the manipulation of the puppet is astounding, the graphic effect is too strong and leaves you wondering if it is really necessary to depict fear and desire like this. Watching is a performance that entrances the public. The music is quite mechanic while the puppet comes alive, an unnatural sound pervases the violent struggle while a classical piece sets the tone for a tender dance in the middle.

Natzijl dances and manipulates the foam creature and the two bodies get entangled, on top of each other, rolling as if their very lives depend on it.

I left feeling I watched a splendid performance with high artistry, but hungry for something that answers the necessity of it all.

Photography: CuePix/Jeffrey Stretton-Bell – National Arts Festival 2016