At the end of the performance, the question marks were all over the faces of the audience members.
What was that?
How did they do that?
What does it all mean?
The members of the Norwegian performance troupe Verdensteatret were happy to explain some of the technical wizardry, as members of the sold-out crowd mingled around on stage post-performance, examining a surreal landscape of bicycle wheels, projectors, lenses, microphones and an almost forgotten, wheezing accordion that was lying on the floor, seemingly breathing all on its own, as though being played by the ghost of some dead child.
Yeah, pretty creepy stuff…but absolutely mesmerizing, too.
The 50-minute performance was part concert, part theater, part kinetic art installation and thoroughly engrossing. It was all about mood, and it conjured up a dark, semi-steampunk atmosphere – a kind of cross between Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “City of Lost Children.”
The stage was littered with fascinating sculptures, most involving bicycle wheels. And most of the wheels – sometimes turned by the human performers, sometimes spinning wildly on their own – triggered a wide array of sounds. The centerpiece was a towering tree of wheels adorned with white flowers and feathers, lights and a chattering set of teeth. Surrounding the stage on three sides were giant screens, often filled with a variety of projections, or sometimes just haunting shadows.
What did it all mean? You’ll have to ask someone else because I haven’t got a clue. But I loved it.