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Shadowland at QPAC Playhouse Theatre

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Shadows dance on the dark side

Viewers who follow the "best of" segments of "Britain's Got Talent" on YouTube will remember "Attraction", where shadow imagery reduced audience and judges to tears.

With this in mind, we approached "Shadowland" with high expectations.

On many levels, the show exceeded expectations. Sheer technical brilliance allows images to morph into unexpected shapes. The dancers are strong, agile and fit beyond envy.

The story is that of a young girl who escapes (perhaps in a dream) through her bedroom wall, acquires a dog's head, and is attacked by a variety of sinister foes, some with menacing knives. Large hands reach in to mould new images and to threaten her. A cowboy teaches her to smoke and then abandons her.

There are amiable images also. An adorable puppy, an elephant, a camel and a centaur.

But overall the "affect" is dark.

Unlike "Attraction", the performers often emerge front of screen and dance.

Human staircases and amazingly flexible people being passed from hand to hand display the dancers' skills and strengths – albeit somewhat repetitively.

A cameo at the end, featuring a koala in Lone Pine Zoo, surfing at the Gold Coast, and a variety of ways for bodies to spell "Brisbane" lightened the mood, and gained a delighted reaction from the audience, possibly relieved to be released from the skilful gloom of the story.

"Attraction", and Shadowland's ending segment showed that the medium of shadows can be very effective in short cameos.

But despite their virtuosity and the skill of the shadow creators, it was a big ask to engage the audience for one hour twenty minutes without an interval.

And your aged reviewer had some problems with the choice and volume of the music.

That said, "Shadowland" is a brave and amazingly skilful attempt to merge technically brilliant shadow work and wonderful dance into what is almost a new genre, and for that alone is worth seeing.
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Why? different, unusual, skilful
When: 24-28 August
Where: Playhouse, QPaC
Cost: $90 - $100
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by Helen Belli on 25/08/2016
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