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Review: ONLY BONES V1.9 at The Roundabout at Fool’s Paradise - ADL Fringe

Review by Lisa Lanzi

Matthew Pasquet is virtuosic in his execution of Kung-fu inspired dance and acrobatic movement framed with a demure clown-like sensibility and impressively calculated, precision action, so as not to injure anyone in the front row!

Prior to the start a voiceover informs us that the concept of this production is based on limitation and boundaries, always excellent starting points from which to create.  Only Bones 1.0 aired in 2015 when Thom Monckton, a visual and physical performer/creator from Aotearoa New Zealand (now working in Finland with Kallo Collective) initiated the parameters: one metre of space, one light source, no narrative, no set, no props, no text.  The provocation to create video as accompaniment to the physical structure was also added.

Pasquet is a circus and martial arts expert and a founding member of FAUNA Circus, an award winning multi-disciplinary creation platform based in Sweden and England, focussed on combining high level acrobatics and physical theatre with live music. As well as being a compelling performer, Pasquet’s total but nuanced command of technique is awe-inspiring.  

Only Bones V1.9 begins in low light with an amorphous, silver ‘asteroid’ centred on stage.  It becomes clear that the performer is beneath this crumpled silver sheeting as they slowly emerge, fingers first, ASMR inducing sound effects accompanying an electronic score.  You could perceive an abstract progression within this performance, a sense of the embryonic becoming aware, moving through challenges and finding a sense of self.  Overlaid upon this evolution are moments of humour and pathos.

Not an easy work to describe, Only Bones V1.9 is as much episodic art installation as physical theatre performance work featuring movement, acrobatic feats, video projection (by virtue of the one light source and angled mirror), humorous vignettes featuring various body parts, and an array of sound effects.  The sonic landscape becomes a character as important as the figures presented by Pasquet in his extreme physical explorations.  Musical elements are pre-recorded, vocals are uttered (in absurdist, fashion) by the performer using a lapel mic, sometimes morphed electronically; breath sounds too are amplified and pertinent to a movement or scene in progress; other materials are used to suggest elemental sound - heading once more into ASMR territory - like grains of rice raining upon the floor; and the sound of hands or feet is sometimes picked up by boundary mics under the slightly raised metre square board, adding to the amplified, partially chaotic, definitely surreal atmosphere.

Apart from the prodigious physical athleticism of this performer, the speed with which Pasquet operates at times defies belief.  Eye-watering spins in place or twisting leaps are executed with such speed (and exquisite control) that you could see coloured after images flashing past - and still all pretty much contained in that crazy one square metre space.

In the small domed tent that is The Roundabout within the Fool’s Paradise hub (located in Victoria Square, Adelaide), there is that special opportunity for intimate performer/audience connection - which can be both a challenge and an excellent experience if you are brave.  The one criticism I have is to do with the road noise that occasionally invaded the creative atmosphere within.  Only Bones V1.9 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely worth investigating to experience the sheer talent that is Matthew Pasquet, and for the work’s imaginative approach to physical theatre.  

Image Supplied


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