Nicole Pingon’s Moon Rabbit Rising is theatre like I’ve never seen it before.
Please note, this review was originally posted on the ATYP’s website.
Inspired by the legend of 后羿 (Hou Yi), a mythological Chinese archer, and his wife 嫦娥 (Chang’e), the Chinese goddess of the Moon, Moon Rabbit Rising is a devised, non-spoken theatre piece presented by an ensemble of Asian Australian performers. The show was produced by Julia Robertson and Annie Stafford of the Little Eggs Collective, directed by Nicole Pingon, with dramaturgy by Adam Yoon.
The piece opens with five performers—Mym Kwa, Jon Lam, Jasper Lee-Lindsay, Monica Sayers and Rachel Seeto— huddling together wearing clean matching white robes (costumes by Esther Zhong) on the simple golden platform (set by Bill Chau), immersed in haze. The ensemble harmonise together while very slowly starting to move. The movements are simple at first, but as the piece gains momentum they grew more powerful and energised.
I’ve never seen a show quite like Moon Rabbit Rising and struggle to put the experience into words. All I can say is, sitting in the packed Downstairs Belvoir space on the first night of previews, I think the entire audience felt one thing: entranced. While based on ancient Chinese myth, one does not need to be familiar with the legend of 后羿 (Hou Yi) and 嫦娥 (Chang’e) to enjoy this work. The ensemble have an electric chemistry and are exceptionally well-rehearsed. The actors move with a balletic grace, seeming to predict and anticipate each other’s movements. Pingon is a master of directing focus and tone so that the prevailing mood of the piece is clear, even if you are unfamiliar with the exact mythological details that inspired each sequence.
The use of the actors’ voices combined with the composition and sound design by Christine Pan was powerfully executed. While the central musical motif was haunting, the moments that Pingon and Pan chose not to have music were some of the most moving of all. The music worked well in tandem with Tyler Fitzpatrick’s lighting design to dictate tone and punctuate each section in the fifty-minute piece.
Moon Rabbit Rising is one of the best works of theatre I’ve seen this year. I went into the show not quite knowing what to expect and was mesmerised by the results. The hybrid of physical theatre, dance and choral performance delivers an unmissable experience, and I can’t wait to see what Nicole Pingon does next.
Little Eggs Collective’s Moon Rabbit Rising plays at 25A @ Belvoir until the 10th July. Buy tickets here.