Moon Rabbit Rising – Belvoir St Theatre (NSW)
Directed by Nicole Pingon, Devised by Little Eggs Collective, sound by Christine Pan
Review by Charlotte Smee
A devised performance of the Ancient Chinese legend of 后羿 (Hou Yi) and 嫦娥 (Chang’e), Moon Rabbit Rising is an adventure through space, light and time. Hou Yi and Chang’e’s story has many versions, having been told in dance, film, art, and other more traditional forms. The bones of it are that the Jade Emperor, ruler of Heaven, has ten cheeky sons who turn themselves into ten suns and the Earth becomes too hot. The Jade Emperor summons Houyi, an archer, to teach his sons a lesson. Houyi decides to shoot nine of the suns down, and the Emperor banishes he and his wife to Earth as mere mortals.
The Little Eggs version focuses on the perspective of the ten suns, with five deviser/performers speaking only in hums and guttural sounds to show us the joy of togetherness and the pain of letting go. Set design by Bill Chau is minimal, with a brown gauze curtain covering the back of the Belvoir downstairs theatre, and a golden cloud-shaped plinth in the centre of the stage. Lighting by Tyler Fitzpatrick is warm and magical, with a string of bulbs behind the curtain bringing mystical depth and bright whites showing scorching heat. Costumes by Esther Zhong dress all performers in heavenly white, with accents of textural mesh and subtle mandarin collars.
Sound and composition by Christine Pan give a transcendent voice and emotive depth to the five performers. Humming refrains sung by the performers are repeated and varied, leading us from togetherness to isolation and back again in ways that words couldn’t. The incredible talent and expressive faces of Monica Sayers, Mym Kwa, Jon Lam, Jasper Lee-Lindsay and Rachel Seeto is a privilege to witness. Sayers is mesmerising, completely committed to the smallest of movements, and this is echoed in the precisely choreographed movements of the rest of the ensemble. Watching each of the performers gaze into each other’s eyes is hypnotic, and the images they create together are nothing short of divine.
The gentle hand of Nicole Pingon’s direction brings all these tiny details to life to create a legend informed by deep history and culture, yet very accessible to new audiences. Little Eggs Collective are known for creating excellent theatre on Sydney’s independent stages, and this is yet another example of their brilliant and collaborative approach to creating art that anyone can enjoy. Moon Rabbit Rising immerses you in theatre, takes you up to the moon, and gently carries you back to reality. All you have to do is let it.
Photo Credit: Clare Hawley
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CREATIVES NICOLE PINGON DIRECTOR JULIA ROBERTSON PRODUCER ANNIE STAFFORD PRODUCER ESTHER ZHONG COSTUME DESIGNER BILL CHAU SET DESIGNER CHRISTINE PAN COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER TYLER FITZPATRICK LIGHTING DESIGNER SAMMY READ LIGHTING ACTUALISER ADAM YOON DRAMATURG/SWING NATASHA PONTOH-SUPIT STAGE MANAGER
CAST MYM KWA JON LAM JASPER LEE-LINDSAY MONICA SAYERS RACHEL SEETO