Theatre – Dubboo: Life of a Songman
Venue: Carriageworks, Eveleigh
Written By: Bangarra Dance Theatre
Directed By: Stephen Page
This two-act performance explores the many-faceted life of this gifted songman through an artful and moving mix of live music, video, stills, voice recordings, the spoken word and dance. The Brendan Boney String Quartet playing music composed by Iain Grandage (with David Page’s evocative and trademark bird calls), a tender Archie Roach, impassioned Ursula Yovich and cultural elder Djakapurra Munyarryun, provide a rich and reverent testimony to Page’s musical ingenuity, knowledge of, and connection with, country.
Additional poignancy is given to the excerpts chosen from Bangarra’s much-loved repertoire as they include six dancers performing with Bangarra for the last time. Wangenga Blanco and Tara Robertson give a mesmerising rendition of “Lust”, Daniel Riley offers a heart-wrenching solo of human despair in “Alcohol” and Luke-Currie Richardspn, Yolanda Lowatta and Kaine-Sultan-Babij appear the beautiful and comforting “Brolga” and “White Ochre Dreaming”. Other highlights are a compelling “Gutting” and a spellbinding solo from Tara Gower in “Feather”.
In a dream, people drift into interval but on their return, they are plunged, with huge enjoyment and delight, into a vaudevillesque world. David Page, via projection, seems to step up and take control, directing his own show, ironical and warm-hearted at once, telling his story from “Little Davey Page” to drag queen spectacular – the unique story of a proud Indigenous gay man.
On stage, the Bangarra company strut their spangled, high-heeled way through a series of crazy routines, including Miss Ellaneous, a very funny Whoopi Goldberg “look-alike”, a salute to Rocky Horror and concluding in a stampede of Tina Turners. In an incredibly ingenious use of projection, Page’s image seems to move towards us, making us believe – for a moment – that he is really present. And so he is, as he lives on in his achievement, the creation of a soundscape grounded in the past and in touch with the pulse of the present.
It is impossible to list the production credits as there are so many, but suffice to say that Dubboo, once seen will never be forgotten for its beauty, its ingenuity and its glorious disruptiveness.