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Review: I Hide in Bathrooms at Waterside Workers Hall

Review by Kate Gaul

South Australia’s Vitalstatistix and Adelaide Festival present artist Astrid Pill and collaborators in what they bill as “a surprising meditation on love, grief, death and yearning.” Astrid pill is a multi-disciplinary artist with an impressive body of work spanning almost three decades. She is an engaging artist who moves like a dream, sings, and tells stories with a surreal intensity. Elegant, abrasive.  The show is both as well – alluring and repellent. Standing on the carpeted stage and flagged by two ambiguous piles of fabric covered glass boxes, I kept thinking I was watching a David Lynch film.  The temperature in the venue was reaching an unbearable heat, and Pill’s hypnotic performance transported me to a ferocious limbo land.

Working with long-term collaborators and experimental theatre-makers, including co-devisors Ingrid Voorendt, Zoë Barry and Jason Sweeney, Astrid Pill draws on real experiences to create a work that fuses fiction with autobiography. “I Hide in Bathrooms” reflects on the experience of losing an intimate partner, falling for someone whose partner has passed away and traversing a relationship while dying. Shifting between these points of view, a woman addresses her romantic delusions, sense of mortality and capacity for hope. Developed over more than three years and premiered by Vitalstatistix as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, “I Hide in Bathrooms” is shaped by the diverse artistic interests of Pill, Voorendt, Barry and Sweeney, who have worked across genres including music, dance, writing, video production, soundscapes, visual art and – of course – theatre.

Above the stage hangs an ominous dark rock – an asteroid, weight, grief? It unlit and looming presence applied the necessary pressure to the scenario.  I mentioned the fabric covered glass boxes.  Inside the boxes are pieces of cut glass. The catch the incredible lighting with much beauty. Momento Mori.  Feathery pale flowers adorn the far corners of the stage. They catch what breeze there is in this stifling venue.  It may be an unintentional master-stroke to keep this production in this mausaleum. On the forestage, the auditorium chairs have been miniaturised and there are two platforms onto which Astrid can move – as she does – when communicating directly with audience members. All the design elements are top notch and support this moving painting, with superb sensation. There are video projections of the “character”, there is monologue from the widow/wierdo, there is song “The Great Pretender”.  Large words that allude to a cause of death relentlessly scroll through much of the piece. Betrayal.  Panic. Accident.  There is no narrative. This is all an excavation of the connection between love and death from three perspectives: that of a dying person; that of someone who is widowed; and that of a person entering a relationship with someone who is widowed. I loved the dance theatre aspect of the work – it was open and ambiguous in a way that text often is not. It is haunting. And more so the next day.  

“I Hide in Bathrooms” is definitely one for theatrical adventurers.  For those who can make the trip out to Port Adelaide you will be entranced by artmaking of the highest level.

Image Supplied


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