By Priscilla Issa
Internationally acclaimed percussion ensemble, Taikoz, took listeners on a journey through Zeami Motokiyo’s 15th Century treatise Fushikaden. This stunning production, Seven Flowers, explored the seven ‘ages’ of the artist, beginning with the First Flower at age 7 and concluding with the Seventh, “The place where nothing is done”. Despite the historical nature of the text, Artistic Director Ian Cleworth captured the transcendental experiences of artists as they move through the various stages of creativity. Cleverly, Cleworth sought to feature Taikoz members as soloists if they represented a ‘stage’; these artists were given a chance to express their experiences, ideas and passions.
The result was spectacularly executed rhythms, unbelievable control, wistful and languid melodies, complete and utter professionalism, and a raucous standing ovation. The production also involved impressive and seamless combinations of music and movement to highlight the artists’ expressions and synchronicity. I have not, to date, attended a more near-perfect production!
The pulsating energy of the production began with Cleworth at the drum, exploring a range of cross-rhythms and brush strokes to foreshadow the intensity of the stages to come. The platform was then graced with the sweet tones of Sydney Children’s Choir singer, Eva Ancher, who courageously filled the recital hall with the sound of innocence and wonder. Zara Luong and Taiki Kendrick followed with the vibrant and enthusiastic sounds of 12–18 year-old creative free-spirit. They commendably captured the descriptors, ‘Flower f the moment’ and ‘Flower Lost’. A highlight was Claudia Wherry’s and Hirotaka Ran’s depiction of the 24-25 year-old artist. The explosive dynamism between the two was paramount; the precision and duet awareness, amidst the intricacies of the complex rhythmic groupings and constantly changing metres, was mind blowing to say the least. At this stage, an artist’s voice has already improved, and their physique established. An artist begins to stand out in the eyes of others, and observers usually note the exceptional skill. Motokiyo calls this the “Two Blessings”. The refinement and grace exuded during the Fifth and Sixth Flower performances, showcased the soloists’ poise and mastery over their instruments. It was almost as though performers were exuding an effortlessness in their playing. It was no surprise that the audience reacted with utter bewilderment at the panache delivered on stage; this is a testament to hours of meticulous practise. There was a definite stillness and contemplation during Riley Lee’s performance of the Seventh Flower. ‘The place where nothing is done’ signifies an artist’s resolution that they have exhausted their creative passion, but that despite its wilting petals, the flower remains.
Seven Flowers featured an impressive production design put together by Bart Groen, Emma Hack and Sophie Pekbilimli. The design incorporated seven suspended drum skins and a double helix which reflected the various stages and the deeply humanistic experiences. The aural and visual artistry and overhead drops were enhanced by projections and non-traditional lighting techniques, indicative of the natural elements: fire, water, earth and wind.
This production is worthy of 5-stars. Taikoz stretched the imagination of audience members, young and old, in what can only be described as a spellbinding journey through time and place.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.