Childhood can be such a fleeting moment. One second you're a teenager and the next you have responsibilities and must face the harsh realities of life. In NEVERNEVERNEVERNEV- ERNEVERNEVERNEVER, Sol Feldman and Aaron Orzech deconstruct this growth and rite of passage, and with inspiration from Peter Pan and JM Barrie, attempt to whisk its audience off to their own Neverland, one that is surrounded by an air of sadness and nostalgia.
The two figures emerge from the darkness; they are roughly twenty years apart in age. They are dressed in identical green singlet and shorts and both have long, unkempt hair. As they start to move their bodies and connecting (and disconnecting) with each other, we begin to question if they are the same person in different periods of their lives, and if so, what is going through their minds as the relationship unfolds. Unfortunately, there isn't much to help guide us through this.
Similarly, Kate Davis' set design which includes a sheer black curtain surrounding the stage, which when paired with the lighting, results in a frustrating time as we struggle to not only bond with the two performers and what is being presented but to be able to see it. What does work well is James Paul's composition and sound design that oscillates between wild and primal and innocent and comforting.
Feldman and Orzech display great physicality and commitment to what they are doing but the dramaturgy by Adena Jacobs can't quite bring it together. There is very little dialogue in NEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVER with its emphasis on physical movement and dance, so it's a bit of a let down when the two performers do eventually speak, that the delivery comes across as flat and over-rehearsed.
NEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVER has been a work in progress for roughly four years, when people began to notice a resemblance between Feldman and Orzech. In its current form, more refinement and consideration as to what this show wants to explore is required, and providing the audience an opportunity to be immersed in the performance and be taken on the journey with the performers, rather than leaving us sitting on the outside.
NEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVERNEVER was performed at Arts House between 9 - 13 November 2022.
Image credit: Tiffany Garvie