Review :: Forklift – Sydney Festival

January 20th 2014


It’s hard to know where to begin when describing the KAGE dance production Forklift. The quick route to describing the show is to simply say that it is a contemporary dance production involving an operating 2.5 tonne forklift.

Another much longer, and probably more interesting, way of explaining the show is to describe the story that Forklift depicts.

Essentially, Forklift tells the story of a warehouse forklift operator just going about her business – the banal and boring activity of just moving about brown boxes. As it happens her forklift isn’t simply moving boxes, but dancers. Initially unaware of their presence, the forklift driver begins to react to them following her trip to the vending machine, as if dissolving her occupational focus and breaking into a packet of crisps unhooks an ability to perceive this, probably, metaphysical presence.

Tangling with her, the dancers take her hi-vis jacket revealing her to be one of them, lycra-lined and lioness-like. Within minutes the three are kitted out in fluorescent cheerleading sex-doll mini-dresses – as if unravelling her Smiths crisps and undoing her dedication to the duties of her labour, unveils a different woman. A wilder woman. A ware-woman in a warehouse.

The crunchy, industrial soundtrack darkens, as do the lights. Fluorescent boxes appear as the dancers (now three) perform ingenious, and often incredible manoeuvres involving the forklift – itself, as much a dancer as the women. Intensifying in sound and sight, the journey seems to be one of dangerous delight – sexual, visceral, colourful and precarious. There goes Alice down the rabbit hole to Warehouse-land, and one starts to wonder if she’ll ever come back, finish those crisps off and put those damn boxes where they belong.


Ultimately, it doesn’t seem like the forklift driver digs her way out of the rabbit hole. But then again, I’m not sure because by this point I was a little flustered (in a good way).

Pregnant with valid and varied interpretations, the purveying theme is one of finding and falling into an animal magic amongst the seemingly mundane and morbid. Whether this is read as being achieved via introspection or an interaction with a metaphysical, hidden or hooded reality is inconsequential to the beauty and mystique of the show. Really, that blurriness contributes to the beauty and mystique of the show.

Regardless of how it might be interpreted or told, the juxtaposing of and interaction between an operating forklift and three dancers is interesting and captivating in and of itself. Kate Denborough‘s clever choreography together with incredible moments of acrobatics, humour, sexiness and interesting musical accompaniment guarantee that Forklift is an entertaining and engaging show all round.

In summary – well worth the price of the ticket.


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