Macro, Adelaide Festival Opening night
Adelaide Oval Village Green, Tarntanya (Adelaide)
Saturday, 5 March 2022
Celebrating cross cultural collaboration

One of the smash hits of the 2021 Adelaide Festival, local physical theatre troupe Gravity and Other Myths (GOM), returned in style to open this year festival with world premiere of the beautiful and at times haunting Macro.

Co-commissioned by Adelaide Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival to mark the Scottish event’s 75th anniversary, Macro is designed as a cross cultural collaboration with GOM combining with the Djuki Marla First Nations dance group, local youth vocal ensemble Aurora and Scottish folk musicians Aiden O’Rourke (fiddle), Kathleen MacInnes (vocals) and Brighde Chaimbeul (pipes).

It seemed fitting, given the show’s location at Adelaide Oval’s Village Green for joint Adelaide Festival artistic director Neil Armfield to lead a minute’s silence to mark the death of cricket legend Shane Warne, a moment where the arts and sport intertwined.

It was then on with the show with a moving Kaurna welcome by Karl Winda Telfer and Yellaka emphasising the spirit and cultural significance of place as the Macro performers traversed the aisles and stage to be cleansed by fire.

Macro has a strong link to GOM’s award winning 2021 Adelaide Festival production of The Pulse containing very similar elements between the two shows, particularly the collaboration with Aurora. Yet, for all the similarities there are points of difference most notably the involvement of Djuki Mala and the Scottish folk trio.

It is an ambitious show, but you couldn’t help but wonder if the Village Green setting really did it justice. With the 7000 plus audience spread out across the green it did feel at times as though the connection between the audience and performers was lost. For all its promise there were moments when you felt you were waiting on something that just didn’t eventuate. Fit for purpose staging, either in-the-round or raised audience seating would have suited this production better.

However, despite these challenges there were some hits, such as the comic relief provided by Djuki Mala and the unique Australian/Celtic soundscape. A big highlight was the beautiful and haunting duet featuring MacInnes singing in Gaelic and Ekrem Phoenix in Turkic, accompanied by a graceful contemporary movement sequence by Djuki Mala. There were times you also couldn’t help but hold your collective artistic breath as the GOM performers defied the laws of gravity with their acrobatic skills.

If the Edinburgh Festival provides the right staging Macro will be a mind blowing birthday celebration. This is a production that brings together people and cultures together and after all isn’t that the main premise of an arts festival? That is definitely something worth celebrating.

– Fontella Koleff