Under My Skin- 4 out of 5 stars

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The performance of Under My Skin, by ‘The Delta Project’, is an important stepping-stone in paving the way for dance & physical theatre shows with deaf performers, and shows catering to deaf audiences. The show- put on as part of the ‘Next Wave’ Festival at the Arts House in North Melbourne, was created and performed by a group of talented and inspiring deaf artists.

The performance proved the power of movement as a language of the soul, to be collectively understood by deaf and non-deaf members of the audience. The show addressed the vulnerability that we attempt to ‘mask’ from the world, characterised by a tight ensemble of dancers. The opening sequence asked the audience to tap into their own vulnerability as the dancers struggled to remove paper bags over their heads- scratching and ripping away pieces, before finally revealing their true faces. I could feel audience members next to me slightly on edge during this sequence, proving how uncomfortable we feel in ripping away our own masks.

A clowning inspired skit injected comedy into the performance, as the dancers played dress-up – changing a dancer into the different character costumes we hide behind in the working world.

The use of projection was also very much merited. What stood out to me was a close up image of one dancer with no make-up on, exposing perceived ‘flaws’. I was struck by the fear I would have if a group of people were to see me that close and uncovered.

Movement was organic and pure, like an honest conversation with a close friend. Maybe we should be as honest and vulnerable with the world, as those who we allow to see our true faces.

Powerful message, powerful performers.

Links: https://www.artsaccess.com.au/the-delta-project/