Dance review: Sediment, Assembly Roxy

David Carberry and Alice Muntz balance on more than bottles. Picture: Contributed
David Carberry and Alice Muntz balance on more than bottles. Picture: Contributed
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If you saw Australia’s Company 2 going wild with a jazz band in Scotch & Soda, then put those memories to bed before entering the world of Sediment. This time there is no big band to back up the action, no nine-strong troupe twisting and tumbling, just an intimate two-hander performed by a couple in need of a bit of relationship therapy.

Sediment, Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) ****

Although their limbs may intertwine during moments of slick acrobatics, the characters played by David Carberry and Alice Muntz are far from close emotionally. The piece is inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 19th century novella, Notes from Underground – but knowledge of this existential work is in no way necessary to enjoy the show.

Carberry and Muntz share an atmospheric living space: a stage strewn with papers, an old television that offers up occasional bursts of text, and an opaque linen curtain that affords some beautiful shadow play. Their time spent together is messy and complicated, with routines executed almost out of spite than love, with grudging tolerance rather than tenderness.

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Both seem to prefer solitary activity, including an accomplished aerial sequence by Muntz and a contemplative moment of sand dancing from Carberry, his feet twisting through the grains as if searching for answers.

Never is the fractured connection between them more obvious than when Muntz attempts to execute a ‘saw the woman in half’ trick all on her own. Throwing annoyed glances at her disinterested partner, she climbs into the box and attempts to slide in the sharp barriers, eventually grabbing his attention to prise her in two.

Toxic co-dependency may drive the narrative along here, but this highly theatrical work has dexterity and skill at its core, whether they’re balancing on glass bottles or each other.

• Until 26 August, 1:40pm