REVIEW: Cephalopod

As far as devised works go, this one is a bit out there. The crew at Squid Vicious have a lot to say about cephalopods, rising ocean levels, Philippine culture, and Asian migration – and a unique way of saying it. Cephalopod fuses a history of sea life with the personal history of a Filipina woman growing up in the nineties with body image issues and racial identity issues as a central theme. The nineties hosted watershed moments in Climate Change and its recognition, and also peak racism with Pauline Hanson stating that Australia would be flooded by Asians. This rising and inevitable flood comes in waves through rhythmic movement and a brilliantly confused soundscape.

The Blue Room Theatre pulses with blue and white light, giving the effect of being underwater. Tess Nyanda Moyle stands confused – relaying information about squids and such to the audience as Ramiah Alcantara sings her confident karaoke ballad – enticing Moyle with her sexy moves and erotically tempting back-up dancers, fellow devisers Andrew Sutherland and Molly Earnshaw. Each chapter of the show is projected onto the wall and it ranges from Whitfords Shops to Skinny Fat. In a seemingly unconnected dance, the performers weave in and out of each other’s presence – they gyrate and yet appear wholesome it’s a grotesque representation of puberty incarnate. The interplay between marine facts and theories on identity and migration are beautifully intertwined – think David Peterborough meets Puberty Blues. Moyle is mesmerised by the enchanting Alcantara who brings a sexual energy to her songs – at once fetishising and alluring.

After an underwater orgy, the tone shifts from hedonistinc squid sex (really the only way to describe it!) to Moyle’s life story. It’s a wholesome look back on an interesting life – from her mother and father’s meeting, to their eventual migration and what it was like growing up in two worlds. Moyle is so endearing, she giggles shyly as she apologises for all of the family photographs but the audience can’t get enough of them. Everyone has a story, and Moyle tells hers with her charming introspective laugh and infectious smile. The titles start to make sense, as Whitfords Shops reveal a painful memory of familial embarrassment, and skinny fat becomes the state Moyle’s inspirational mother was in before taking up running. There is a lot to unpack in a problematic life – Moyle doesn’t shy away from her moments of self-hatred and feelings of being othered. We are all championing for her as she puts into words a lifetime of being different but of fitting into certain worlds. Moyle is straddling several identities and doing so with aplomb.

WHEN: 29 October – 16 November 2019 | 7:00pm & 8:30pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 50 mins | Suitable 14+ | Warnings: Coarse Language & Adult Concepts


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