Mortel by MERAK

Jackie McMillan
27th Apr 2023

“Do you want to smell them,” my theatre companion asks as we file through the blue door into Sydney’s newest 60-seat theatre, KXT on Broadway. We’re choosing between three rows of seats banked up either side of the intimate black box. We end up in the front row victim seats next to Paul Capsis, fresh off the State Theatre’s stage in La Cage aux Folles. We have gathered for the opening night of Mortel by MERAK, a 60-minute show that straddles the blurry line between physical theatre and contemporary dance. 

A cast of nine very committed performers start and finish the night in hosiery cocoons attached by umbilical cords to the fixtures. What Steven Ljubović’s accessible show invites audiences to consider is what it would be like to suddenly come into adult embodiment: exactly what bodily pleasures you would explore. The cast—led at times by an infectiously joyful Abbey Dimech—explore their disorderly bodies and polymorphously perverse pleasures with increasing abandon. By contrast, later in the show we see the limited range of bodily movements we use in our monotonous daily routines. The sound design by Kieran Camejo tended toward generic contemporary dance electronica, but redeemed itself with segments where the performers used their own bodies as noise-making instruments, and the haunting classical vibrato sung by Bella Ridgway. Hurry, only limited seats ($45/person) left for the remaining shows running nightly until 29 April.