Review: Time Machine

An ambitious and frenetic mix of dance and acrobatics by innovative performance company STREB EXTREME ACTION

international review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Time Machine
Photo by Roy VanDerVegt
Published 17 Mar 2024

Elizabeth Streb is known for defying physics and breaking the rules when it comes to contemporary dance. With the use of large, human-powered tools, Streb’s Action Heroes slide across the stage and crash into it again and again. There is a rhythm to it, but it doesn’t feel like dance.

Constrained within a box barely as long as themselves, one Action Hero contorts and throws themselves against each side frantically. Within the context of exploring time, this feels like a claustrophobic realisation that we are trapped by the years we have, and that no amount of pushing or shoving can alter that fact.

For a work with so much frenetic movement, it is very slickly choreographed. Voiceovers of Streb contextualise acts and give historic information. Tidbits such as transporting a full-size trampoline into a tiny New York studio fill time as the stage is readied. 

The piece is incredibly high-energy and fun, with a nod to slapstick, and wide grins light each of the performers’ faces. It is, like much of Streb’s work, pushing the boundaries of dance and challenging its norms. What this does, however, is bring in elements of circus and acrobatics that are not up to the standard seen in many circus shows.

Time Machine is an engaging work incorporating dance and acrobatics but in a way that results in a sum lesser than its parts.


Time Machine, Her Majesty's Theatre, until 17 March