This reactionary piece to the world’s climate crisis is a series of somersaults in the air, you don’t quite know whether it makes the landing.
A combination of physical theatre and impressive acrobatics, Zoë involves a three-person cast with surreal costuming – a bird's nest, a mushroom and a LED-lit cloud. The three (Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert, and Spenser Inwood) intertangle to deliver a deep environmental message, however, this only becomes prominent by the end. Throughout it is difficult to gauge whether the environmental themes are lost, or just confused. This piece seems to provide more questions than answers making it a jigsaw puzzle of an hour, the meaning behind is of urgent importance – however, it takes time to piece the story together.
The movements are deliberate and it is a visual feast – it should be interpretive, in that sense, and it is. It’s challenging and stimulating, the acrobatics keeping you on the edge of your seat. The projections span from the tiniest of squares on the back of a table to expansive displays over all the ceilings and walls of Assembly Roxy. It’s a beautiful spectacle, however, the ecological beauty of it triumphs over the actual storytelling.
Perhaps the strongest part is the ending where one performer is spinning with a table lined with LED lights, the message is deep – the earth keeps spinning even though it’s so tired. It’s a poignant metaphorical statement, but it is this feeling of something other than the confusion that I was hopeful would be echoed throughout the show. This isn’t to say that Zoë shouldn’t be abstract, it most definitely should – audiences don’t need things spelt out for them. However, there should be some navigation in the story moving it forward – this only became apparent at the very end.
Zoë is an important piece, an essential piece in fact. It’s just the delivery got somewhat cloudy.