Review: The Promise

An empowered and emotionally resonant challenge to social norms

international review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Promise
Photo by Russell Millard
Published 08 Mar 2024

Unwritten and unspoken rules carry weight which is hard to be measured. In The Promise, we are brought into a life which does not fit into social ideals. We are faced with an older woman – not willing (or not able) to have children – a social outcast.

Dutch artist Wende looks at themes of loneliness, individualism and shame in the collaborative piece The Promise. She explores the internal monologue of making selfish decisions – deciding to not procreate – and the power that comes from making them. It’s not an easy decision. To do so, you are saying goodbye to a life you never had the chance to live while allowing yourself to celebrate the life you did choose. It’s recognising the doubt within oneself and yet still being able to forge ahead.

In offering herself as the messenger, Wende is emotionally bare. As audience, we see the beauty of living a million lives and the tragedy of not being able to live a million more. We see the transience of humanity and acknowledge that impermanence does not equal insignificance. In this work, there is great self-exploration and reflection. Doubt is measured and considered as progress. 

Across the work there are varying viewpoints – social, personal, political. Wende shows anger, sadness, remorse and happiness. It is in itself a display of human emotion and the human experience. Its sheer vastness and depth is a resounding and unwavering representation of a modern woman.

Musically, the work is both effective and emotive. Playing between minor scales, chromatic falls and tight harmonies, Wende often falls outside of expected musical direction and draws upon her voice’s trembling quality in moments of softness, before bringing strength and certainty in others. The enigmatic connection between the musicians is obvious as they seek each other with their gazes and sing and play as one.

Wende comes to us with gratitude that we live in a world where women are able to decide how to live their own lives staying true to themselves. As affirming as this choice may be, it can be isolating and The Promise explores these complexities with beauty, power and love.


The Promise, Space Theatre, until 10 March