Adam Rohe and Phillip Good play the dutiful back up dancers for Anna, as well as covering almost all other referenced characters. Both actors exaggerate their roles, playing games with each other and the audience making for an entertaining pre-show as audience are filing in. The duo, addressed as Adam and Phillip throughout the piece, frequently break the fourth wall, discussing how the show is going and addressing the audience directly on several occasions. At one point a page of script is passed around person to person to use to deliver a monologue which connects us to Anna’s journey even more. Although clearly planned, I could not help but be surprised at the accuracy of the actors delivery of lines; much of it had a loose, natural feeling which kept us as an audience engaged throughout the piece. As an audience member, I felt two interconnected stories playing out through the consistent interactions; the story Anna thought she was telling, and the story Adam and Phillip were showing us.
The stage layout is monochromatic, with the back wall of the performance area cloaked with white and black polka dot fabric, shaped as triangles and stretched from corners to floor. These gave an aesthetic like demented, solid spiderwebs that the actors had to move through. This added another dimension to the space and created pockets of room for actors to hop, skip and jump through. Under bright lighting it made the space feel hopeful and vast, but as scenes got darker and lighting became bluer or duller, these swathes of fabric cast long shadows, creating monsters in the space, and helping shift the mood alongside music and lighting. The clever set construction by Hayley Robertson is simple and frequently touched, pulled on, or stepped through by the performers.
Bright pink, soft auburn and raw blue lights dominated the stage, illuminating the actors during their choreographed dance sequences and scene transitions. Smooth lighting transitions handled by Spencer Earwaker supported the movement of characters from one mood to another, such as from an argument with the ever patient therapist straight into a high energy choreographed lip sync of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Costuming by Good put himself and Rohe in 80’s get up, with leotards, leggings and legwarmers, with occasional costume changes to include glittery ruffles or character items. This complemented the lighting exquisitely and helped enforce the “Dance Floor” element of this show. A rack of fabulous fabrics hid in the right hand corner of the stage offers some delicious colour against the white polka dot backdrops MANIAC on the Dance Floor did well to balance the bright, high energy scenes with monologues, banter between characters and moments of sadness. This was achieved in part by the smooth, saucy choreography by Marianne Infante which routinely brought applause and cheering from the audience.
Tekoronga-Waka played Anna with sincerity which at times brought a few audience members to tears (including this reviewer!). She showed incredible discipline moving between moods and states, with believable emotion. Comfortable with stillness, Tekoronga-Waka held her own in powerful dialogue free scenes which helped us as an audience really connect to the characters journey. However, at times the lines of script were lost due to fast delivery and a little mumbling. Additionally, some scenes did not accurately predict how her voice and pitch would work when talking over music. In one scene, Tekoronga-Waka retrieves a microphone from her bra while loud pumping music blared, but her passionate dialogues were more or less drowned out by the beat.Despite this, the sense of each scene was clear and well delivered. Anna’s costuming was more simplistic than Phillip’s or Adam’s, with a black shirt, bra and shorts, and a green lavalava knotted over the top. However, costuming could have been played with more for Anna’s development, especially during her highs and lows in this piece. Additionally, some costumes, such as the dress made of doctors receipts, were somewhat difficult to interpret, and with Tekoronga-Waka’s dialogue lost under the sound of the music, this creative choice was lost to the audience.
MANIAC on the Dance Floor is a fun, fast paced, reflective show produced with the fantastic creative team behind A Mulled Whine that brings this piece to life. I felt joyous and moved at the end of this show from the laughter and tears of living Anna’s experiences. It is a must see for those who enjoy delving deeper into meaningful dialogue on mental health, while enjoying some partying along the way.
MANIAC on the Dance Floor runs from 9-13 July 2019 at BATS Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.