Hovering somewhere between dance and circus, Lunar Sea explores the possibilities offered by its central conceit: the use of ultraviolet lighting to conceal and reveal.
The effect is indebted to the traditions of ballet and puppetry one figure, dressed in black, dissolves into the background; the other, in white, is underscored, and bears the illusion. The results are often breathtaking, but success is more dependent upon the company’s ability to vary the pattern. In this, Momix are triumphant.
For all the title’s celestial promise, there is more navel-gazing here than star-gazing. The infinite is discussed in terms of the infinitesimal, the eternal in terms of the transient. This is apparent from the very first scene, from which we are ushered through a number of colourful tableaux. The glowing figures appear chromosomal, their movements mesmerising and meiotic. At other times and in particular when things get racy one cannot escape how spermatozoal they appear, and how fecund; the stage is a thick primordial soup, an ocean. If you can saw that episode of Blue Planet with the deep-sea neon fish then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
There is innocence and menace in equal measure. The figures are totally other, and express an inner-logic alien to us. On one hand, we have the joy of discovery wonderment at the simplicity and unity of creation; on the other, we have a distressing inability to explain this difference and render it safe, and as such there is the continual threat of disorder and Darwinian anarchy.
Coupled with its erotic undercurrent, we may be reminded of Heaney’s moribund naturalist, who found abject horror in the hedgerows. This oscillation is powerful, and handled with delicacy. There are a number of very funny moments where the disjuncture is referred to directly, and one is only too aware that our laughter veils resignation and melancholy.
On the whole, the music provides a fine supplement though there is little variety and at times things sound a little mid-90s. Think electronica with a dose of tribal drumming, alluding perhaps to the cradle of humankind. In this, our skyward aspirations are again weighed down, made primitive or rudimentary. We instinctively seek to understand, but the enormity of existence cannot be understood. Thematically, it would seem that Lunar Sea owes a good deal to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick would have been proud.