The Agony, The Ecstasy and I

From the moment you walk into the performance space it is clear The Agony, The Ecstasy and I is about the computer company Apple. Green apples line the floor of the small corridor entrance and the fresh smell of apple can be detected as you wait for the performance to begin.

Tarryn Runkel and Laura Hopwood
Tarryn Runkel and Laura Hopwood

This new work by dancer Tarryn Runkel and actor Laura Hopwood incorporates dance, movement, acting and AV projections.  According to production notes it

“is their response to gonzo-journalist Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”, the scathing and controversially misleading attack on Apple Inc.”

There are some interesting movement sequences in this performance as Runkel balances and moves around on four computer screens whilst engaging in a set of pilates moves.  At one point Runkel pulls an apple earphone from her mouth and does it so convincingly that it had me believing she was actually pulling it from her insides.

Attaching hearts and ‘like’ symbols from Facebook – printed on sticky notes – to performers and the audience is a clever representation of how apple products have become so ingrained in our lives, almost becoming a part of ourselves.

As the house lights go up Runkel and Hopwood begin the whole performance again as audience members sit uncomfortably deciding if they should leave.  In a show that represents IT as isolating, its final scene encourages audience members to actually communicate with each other.

The lighting, designed by Joe Lui, was effective while the use of AV projection, designed by Emma Fishwick, was frequently haunting, as images flashed across the back of the stage.

At times the performers sit behind a computer screen or perform repetitive sequences for a little too long. At one point a monologue, in which all the racial slurs against Asians are recited, seems out of context from the rest of the work. It comes across more as a judgement on Australians racial attitudes rather than a comment on Daisey’s article.

The audience, judging from comments overheard, emerges from the performance a little confused. The Agony, the Ecstasy and I has some interesting and thought provoking ideas.  However you do get the feeling that Runkel and Hopwood have been a little overly ambitious in trying to incorporate too many ideas into one performance, so that the message of the performance loses much of its impact.

The show over I left the Blue Room, turned on my iphone and logged onto Facebook to see what was going on in the world.

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