Cut the Sky

Carol Flavell Neist

The latest work by Broome's Marrugeku is a remarkable and compelling work of cross-cultural storytelling.
Cut the Sky

Seventy minutes of mind-blowing intercultural and interdisciplinary performance!

This was a huge endeavour, involving many, many people. The six performers were just the tip of an enormous iceberg, although when considering a work created by people whose home is in the desert, perhaps iceberg is an inappropriate metaphor.

The company, collectively called Marrugeku, hails from the north-west of Australia, where, as the program notes tell us, ‘desert meets sea, black meets white, Australia meets Asia, and cultures twine, fuse and morph’. That neatly sums up the Marrugeku experience.


Cut the Sky is based on a modern-day dreaming story of gas buried deep in the north-west. A huge mining device is the only ‘set’, a constant reminder of the intrusion of the mining industry into the lives and legends of the north-west people. The gas is personified as Dungkaba, Poison Woman, via a poem by key performer Edwin Lee Mulligan. Mulligan is already known as an artist but is obviously a poet and dancer of no mean talent as well.

Storms and cyclones are another unavoidable part of living in the north-west, and the dancers skilfully move back and forth between being humans affected by the storm and being the storm itself. Involving film and vocal music, some of it live on stage, and clever effects including a curtain of rain, Cut the Sky kept the audience spellbound.

These are seriously gifted performers of admirable intensity and commitment. Mulligan’s verse, together with the music of Ngaiire, gave as much to the performance as the choreography. Mention must also be made of clever violin-playing, singing dancer, Eric Avery and of Josh Mu’s athletic dancing.

This has to be one of the most successful works of many that have sought to bring Australian ethnic dance and music to the stage. Bravo, Marrugeku.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5

Marrugeku's Cut the Sky
Concept: Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain
Poems: Edwin Lee Mulligan
Director: Rachael Swain
Choreographers: Dalisa Pigram and Serge Aimé Coulibaly
Dramaturg: Hildegard de Vuyst
Musical Director:  Matthew Fargher
Media designers & visual concept: Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya (Desire Machine Collective)
Set and Costume Designer: Stephen Curtis
Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper
Cultural Adviser: Patrick Dodson

Cast/co-creators: Miranda Wheen, Ngaire Pigram, Eric Avery, Josh Mu, Dalisa Pigram and Edwin Lee Mulligan

Regal Theatre, Perth
27 February - 1 March

Perth International Arts Festival 2015
13 February - 7 March

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Carol Flavell Neist  has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop, and has also published poetry and Fantasy fiction. She also writes fantasy fiction as Satima Flavell, and her books can be found on Amazon and other online bookshops.