A word of advice to dance clubs around Australia: sponsor The House that Jack Built to appear in your town and you are guaranteed an increase in numbers. This is a production that, even if you’ve never set foot in a club in your life, will make you want to find one as soon as you leave the theatre.
A party atmosphere was established even before we got through the theatre doors, with a beefy bouncer separating the “VIPs” from the rest of the queue. Just as the crowd began to trickle inside, a car screeched to a halt next to us and far too many excitable clubbers tumbled out of its doors and windows.
Once inside, it quickly became clear that this was not going to be an ordinary dance performance. Two DJs were already pumping out a heavy bass line, and the stage – convincingly transformed into a club dance floor – was gradually filling with partygoers gearing up for a big night.
There was no faulting Janine Ayres' concept. Celebrating everything that’s cool and ridiculous about club culture, from the eye-popping moves to the questionable clothing trends, is a perfect platform for a dance production. Add in some nail-bitingly good aerial dance sequences and we should have ended up with a performance that left the audience breathless.
Unfortunately, at times The House that Jack Built didn't appear completely ready to receive visitors. There were a few instances when it seemed the performers had been told to just keep moving, and the results looked unsure. There was also a great deal of action happening in various places across the stage, which sometimes resulted in a lack of focus. As Jack himself, Adnane Nemri seemed stuck between the role of main character and narrator, coming across slightly too laid back when he occupied centre stage.
That said, there were also plenty of moments when the performance delivered what it promised. The aerial sequences were particularly spectacular, and some of the choreography that drew all the dancers together had a free, joyous sense about it. As the night progressed, we also got an idea of each dancer’s character and watched as their stories intertwined. Jo Nauman, Alison McGregor and Kylie Murray all had energy and skill that was difficult to look away from, even when their characters weren’t central to the action.
With a few home improvements, a performance as fun as The House that Jack Built could easily wow many more audiences given the opportunity. And if the performance itself doesn’t make it to stage again, perhaps DJs Lanny K and Miss Yetti will at least be kind enough to release a soundtrack for us.
Janine Ayres Aerial Dance
The House that Jack Built
Venue: Street One, The Street Theatre, Childers St Canberra City West
Dates: 7 - 9 October 2009
Tickets: Wed and Thurs: $23 Standard; $18 Concession. Fri: $28 includes House Party
Duration: approximately 60 – 70 minutes; House party continues to midnight
Bookings: 02 6247 1223 or www.thestreet.org.au