Review: Off-Kilter at Dance Base

In a cross between theatre and dance, Off-Kilter depends entirely on props and gesture to tell the story of one man’s descent into mental chaos.

Without the distraction of words, the result is a lively performance in which dramatic tone and mood transcend the need for a storyline or plot details.

We are introduced to Joe Kilter, an obsessive-compulsive who goes about his day in rehearsed, methodical movements to the heartbeat-like stroke of a string instrument. Every routine is satisfyingly timed and placed, from the his daily calisthenics to the way he hangs his coat.

The order quickly unravels, however, when a letter descends on Joe’s desk with a literal boom. The contents of the letter and what it represents are beside the point, the audience simply accepts that it is life-shattering based on the nightmarish chaos that ensues.

There were certain moments when the 45 minutes without dialogue tended to drag. However, sleight of hand tricks and gravity-defying movements kept the audience engaged. Suspense was kept at a near-constant with the echoing tick-tick of a clock—a glowing orb that served as one of the few embellishments on the stark stage. At times the clock would speed and Joe’s movements would become frenzied, like a fast-forwarded tape, before suddenly transitioning into slo-mo. Such distortion of time served as another signal of the departure of normalcy.

Overall, Off-Kilter was clever and visually engaging. It served as proof that words are not an imperative in theatre — mood and physicality are equally sufficient in telling a story.

Off-Kilter, Dance Base, Aug 11-26 Aug (not 13, 20), 3.30pm

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