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Acrobat-contemporary performance in unexpected places
The tradition of telling stories to musical accompaniment is nothing new: folk musicians have been filling coffee houses and concert halls for decades. ACROBAT, the third in the Dining Room Tales series of acclaimed independent performance company A is for Atlas, takes that tradition and adds a generous dollop of pomegranate molasses and just the right amount of salt.
David Chong is a jazz singer, psychologist and cook: the perfect skill set for an evening of food, song and reflection. His colourful journey from birth to the ripe old age of 50 has seen him travel from the outskirts of Sydney (the story of his birth gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'hit the road') to Brazil and back, and many points in between.
On a wild winter's night, twenty or so of David's new best friends made the journey across town to a private residence in leafy Malvern to hear his stories. The idea of knocking at a stranger's door and being welcomed inside, fed and entertained is both a foreign concept and a privilege. After two hours in the company of David and his gracious hosts, Weekend Notes says there should be more of it.
The guests (audience is too impersonal a word – we were all introduced for goodness' sake) were treated to a performance that started in the dining room around a table covered with photos from David's past, and moved to the family room where we sat at two long tables set for dinner. First course was a lesson in paper-plane folding, a surprisingly competitive activity that made for lively interaction and allowed audience members to let loose their inner stealth fighter pilot.
Then it was on to the main course, a blend of tantalising South American flavours and musical influences. David and gifted guitarist Nathan Slater performed original songs that shone a light on his multi-faceted personal history. During the course of the evening we heard about the role of food in David's life: of his tendency to hoard as a reaction to the privations suffered by his parents during the second World War, of his love of cooking for the people he loves: for David, the act of "offering food is the start of intimacy."
No arguments from this reviewer: an intimate night in with David Chong and friends is nourishment for body and soul.