Posts Tagged ‘WTF



21
Feb
13

A Doll House

A Doll House

Pan Pan (Ireland)

World Theatre Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse

13th – 17th February 2013

 

Featuring: Charlie Bonner, Pauline Hutton, Dermot Magennis, Áine Ní Mhuirí, Daniel Reardon, Judith Roddy.

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

This production is so interesting. I didn’t love it and yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I admire what the company has…gotten away with! It’s the strangest thing. Also strange, was the common audience response to Pan Pan’s A Doll House, seen at Brisbane Powerhouse last week. It’s the World Theatre Festival, and anything goes, right? This piece might have served to represent contemporary theatre making at its most innovative and daring (and damn the consequences!), were it not for the fact that we’ve seen braver and more imaginative works here, in Brisbane, in the last few years. That’s not to say that A Doll House is any less important or interesting. In fact, it’s getting us talking and that in itself is important. This updated version is, as Director Gavin Quinn notes, “an investigation of the first modern play… I didn’t like the translations that existed, I needed to rewrite the play to make certain idioms come out of the actors’ mouths.”

 

Pan Pan’s production of A Doll House challenges our perceptions of what theatre is, or can be. At times it sounds like Ibsen’s classic script is barely in tact but it’s just a neat trick, with characters interjecting using the latest lingo, and tossing around contemporary references to keep us diving in and out of a text that is so familiar to so many, and still widely performed. When a reference to Thin Lizzy goes largely unnoticed by the older audience members, my mum proudly tells me she didn’t miss it. “I know who Thin Lizzy is!” (Wait. Did she mean she knew the band or the brand of mineral makeup? You can never tell with my mum!).

 

As housekeeper and nanny, Áine Ní Mhuirí gives us extensive notes, and stage directions from Ibsen’s text but in Act 1 her words are hard to hear and I’m not sure exactly what her efforts achieve, aside from setting up the traditional given circumstances, establishing our setting in the open space, with which the style and the action is inconsistent. There’s a doorway, and life size paper dolls, at first with their backs to us (later they are turned towards us and to finish, laid face down on the stage). Actual objects – a Christmas tree and a rocking chair – are brought on for Act 2 after they have already been imagined and the actions mimed. Did they forget them earlier?! No, of course not, it’s a style thing, a choice thing, like the girls we’ve seen recently wearing opaque tights as leggings…weird, and probably a poor choice (sorry girls but somebody had to say it), and they don’t seem to notice. It’s not about what it looks like, it’s about having the right to choose the image they are presenting to the world. Also, who can afford to keep up with blackmilkclothing.com?!

 

Then there are the random elements that add humour and make very little sense. An ironic extended rendition of The Carpenters’ Close to You draws bouts of giggles, murmurs and questioning faces from the audience. The acapella piece goes on for so long that it’s… awkward…and very funny, sort of, like a bad karaoke number at a private party…and it’s the birthday boy singing. Inexplicably, earlier in the piece, we had also enjoyed – sort of – the two girls singing together the second half of On My Own from Les Miserables. Why? Was it some symbolic nod to Nora’s original mental and emotional state preceding her self-empowerment and departure? I scold my inner voice. “Let’s quit questioning things and watch the show!”

 

The dialogue is a combination of direct delivery, turning heads and talking to us rather than to each other, and sudden emotional outbursts, also directed only vaguely at times towards the other characters. It’s as if, by manipulating text and proximity, they are alienating us, keeping us outside of a story that’s not nearly as relevant as it once was…or is it?

 

A Doll House

 

Ibsen’s title has been known through English translations as A Doll’s House. The Norwegian translation reminds us, “The house is not Nora’s, but the toy.” Nora is barely there but she puts on a good act, just like any good housewife: she’s happy and humming, skipping and dancing her way through the traditional Christmas celebrations; the hostess with the mostess. But like the shiny baubles that spill forth from the box she brings into the space, her world falls in pieces, and rolls away from her, glinting in a far corner. (Too much? So many aspects of this production were that much!). It’s as if she’s there, larger than life, to make up for the fact that in essence, she’s already gone.

 

As Nora, Judith Roddy is all there, and makes more of this role, in her physicality and her vocal work than I’ve seen from any other Nora. In short, so full of quirks and youthful exuberance, this production is all Roddy’s. But if there’s a deeper meaning, it comes and goes until the end.

 

A wonderful, sharply observed spiel about the merits of Wonderwoman and Lara Croft made a decent comparative study, and was one of the few intertextual surprises that worked. Not until the final conversation between Norah and Torvald, delivered from their positions lying in bed (on opposite sides of the stage), did we see beyond the facades created by odd costuming and over-the-top delivery modes.

 

It’s an unexpected dissection by Pan Pan and Quinn – certainly the most challenging reading of the play I’ve been exposed to in terms of its “contemporary” nature and the meta-theatrics exposed along the way – and it’s almost as if, once pulled apart and analysed, it doesn’t quite fit back together again. Imagine Mr G opening the high school wardrobe department with the class, and casting by offering costumes to whomever they fit! It’s a strong ensemble though, and there’s no mistaking each character for who they are.

 

A Doll House

 

If you look at Pan Pan’s history, and their intentions for this work, the company is creating theatre. That’s all. They’re not going out of their way to sell us a new, neat version of women’s lib here, but they’re making fun, zany theatre that asks us to reconsider the big issues. I don’t think they care whether we learn or grow or not. It’s theatre. It’s entertainment.

 

 

There are so many incongruous elements at work here that I’m sure some will hail this production as a work of genius, and others will see it more as a study of the fun, the ridiculous. Pan Pan’s A Doll House is an entertaining, moving, challenging night of theatre. And that’s why we continue to see as much as we can and enjoy these oddball gems with their classic roots. Sometimes that’s the best sort of theatre we can be exposed to. The unexpected, no-rules, ridiculous, fun sort!

 

A Doll House

18
Feb
13

Parah

Parah

Parah

Instant Café Theatre Company, Malaysia

Visy Theatre

World Theatre Festival

Wednesday 13th – Sunday 17th February 2013

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Does a word really have the power to change the course of a friendship?

 

Four characters – three guys and a girl – the archetypal responses to racial conflict in a multicultural Malaysian setting that continues to challenge, on many levels, on matters of race and gender.

 

The company started out in Kuala Lumpur, with political satire, their humour allowing the dissection and delivery of current affairs in Malaysia. “The mouth opens wide so the truth can slip in.”

 

Now, using young actors and age-old issues (issues that theatre makers have shied away from in the past), Parah explores the controversy over the use of the word ‘pariah’ in Interlok, a Malay novel, and one of the set texts in Malay schools. Unknown outside Malaysia, the novel causes controversy that challenges authorities and rocks relationships. Playwright, Alfian Sa’at observed after the performance during an enlightening Q&A session, “a school text book that continues to perpetuate stereotypes is going to cause damage.” And, “so much is about race but part of it is gender. Negotiating what it is to be male.” Alfian Sa’at’s Parah comes with many layers.

 

While four friends can work together and play together, they also discover “each other’s deeper personal histories, stories or tragedies.” Director, Jo Kukathas, in an appropriately traditional storytelling context, brings forth their individual stories to reveal the racial tensions that simmer beneath the surface of everyday life in multi-cultural Malaysia, a relatively young country, continually working on creating an identity. It could be Australia. The landscape is certainly familiar.

 

Alfian Sa’at spoke about the young people he had interviewed during the writing process. He told us that some of them were very scarred from racial politics in school. “The wounds are really quite deep. Young people feel these things differently but might not have the words…”

 

A dynamic cast – Iedil Putra (Hafiz), Gregory Sze (Kahoe), Branavan Aruljothi (Mahesh) and Farah Rani (Melur, the only female, representing the conscience of the play) – bring the focus of the piece to the words we so casually employ as friends. I’m going to use a word to contextualise this, so please don’t be offended by my use here of the word “keling”, a derogatory term, which the protagonist, Mahesh, explains he would prefer not to hear used by anybody, least of all his friends. His “friend”, Hafiz, misses the point and so begins the breakdown of their relationship and a stern discourse about racism and the choices available to people in positions of authority to do good, not evil. This story ends in triumph, and yes, there are tears, but not before a great deal of laughter, especially from the Malay audience members, who get all the gags.

 

A hot topic of conversation following the show, neither the language nor the surtitles bothered me. I studied Bahasa at high school, just enough to have recognised at least the Malay numbers and many of the words. But because I wanted to understand the issues, I found myself reading the surtitles as well as “reading” the action on stage. I love words so if there are words in front of me I’ll read them. For those without a staple diet of Opera, Art House and SBS films during their adolescence, or without hearing impaired family members or friends; you may not have had the same level of exposure to surtitles in the theatre. Don’t let that put you off going to a show! Last year there were three shows using surtitles at WTF!

 

Sam suggested that, just like selecting a 3D movie screening or not, there could be an option within the festival program to see each surtitled production without the surtitles. Of course, this would offer two completely different readings of a play for those who don’t speak the delivery language. Members of the production team feel very strongly that Parah can only be performed in Malay. As Charmaine noted, “There’s no other language in the world that can emulate some feelings.”

 

Parah

Parah is just a taste of what the World Theatre Festival brings to the Brisbane theatrical landscape. It’s a powerful play that stands with pride and says quietly and confidently, “Look at me. I’m just like you. An immigrant. I love my history and I love my country, and here we all are, in this place together, working out what we will be.”

 

17
Feb
13

WTF Wrap Up: Week 1

Well, I haven’t been at Brisbane Powerhouse ALL week but I’ve seen some awesome shows that I have to quickly mention before I get back to finishing writing the reviews…

In case you didn’t realise, the World Theatre Festival is THE most incredible time and place to

 

a) experience theatre from all over the world

 

b) meet artists, theatre makers and theatre lovers from all over the world

 

c) relax and unwind over a vino, enjoy a meal, and discuss theatre and theatre making with like-minded peeps from all over the world

 

Parah

PARAH (The Instant Cafe Theatre, Malaysia) is delivered in Bahasa with English surtitles. Surtitles are certainly not a new phenomenon (in last year’s program three shows used surtitles), but for some, there’s an additional challenge in dividing one’s attention between the actors and the surtitles above them. Like anything, one’s ability to read the surtitles and “read” the action improves with practice. Following the Q&A after the show, Sam made a very good point in questioning whether or not there had been any consideration of showing the play a couple of times without surtitles. You know, like you choose whether or not you want to see a movie in 3D. I’d love to see international works delivered both ways, once with surtitles and a second time without. How different those readings might be.

I loved the power of Parah, and I admire the playwright’s exceptional skills; he is a gifted writer and a keen observer of human connectivity (not all writers are, though they will claim that it is indeed human connectivity or the human spirit that they have written about!). There is nothing missing from PARAH, no loose ends, nothing to not get. Beautifully, sensitively shaped, this has been a stand-out. It could be a story from anywhere at all, our own story; it’s a universal truth and a quiet, confident call to action, using young people and age-old issues to stir in us a revolutionary rumble.

 

 

A Doll House

A DOLL HOUSE (Pan Pan, Ireland) is a contemporary re-staging of a classic play that has always sent shockwaves through conservative, parochial societies. This version did not affect me the way I had expected it to. I didn’t love it (I thought I would love it), but I was caught up in it and I could see what it was the company was trying to do. It just didn’t get to me, it didn’t feel complete or controlled enough, and when I wanted to love or hate a character, I found I didn’t feel very strongly, either way, about them. I’m sure that many others, for the same reasons, have adored this new production.

 

 

The Economist

THE ECONOMIST (MKA Theatre of New Writing, Melbourne), on the other hand, has had a profound effect on me. I feel strangely – inexplicably – protective of the subject matter, and the fact that it’s not a Norwegian company who is tackling this story for the first time irks me. On the other hand, it’s such a horrifying true story, which happened so recently, I feel like it must be time that somebody looked at telling a version of it, and thank goodness it wasn’t a Norwegian group! It would be too hard to take. What MKA have done is to present individual puzzle pieces as anecdotes and scenes with sub-headings that, thankfully, don’t attempt to explain or justify the actions of a killer. It’s creepy, disturbing and challenging, but it’s not completely frightening. I was surprised and relieved to find at no point did I need to wipe away tears. When I realised this, because I cry so easily, I felt like the structure and the theatrical devices had duped me into feeling unaffected, but of course we are never unaffected, we are simply able to walk out of the theatre, back into our own safe lives, and into the arms of loved ones.

 

 

White Rabbit Red Rabbit

WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT (By Nassim Soleimanpour, Iran) trumps A Doll House for the strangest work I’ve seen so far at this year’s festival. I loved it. This is an incredibly clever piece of theatre that is unlike anything you’ve seen, except perhaps if you had the good fortune to see QTC’s An Oak Tree, which not dissimilarly, used a different actor each night. The actor is unprepared and, in the case of White Rabbit Red Rabbit, begins reading the script only when it is handed to them on stage in front of the audience. The writer, Nassim, has written TO the actor, and TO the audience, both instructions and text that must be spoken, so that his story may be shared all over the world. We had the great privilege of meeting Nassim (and our lovely actor, Luisa Hastings), after the performance during a Q&A session. More on that experience in the review. With its metaphorical story, its audience participation, its quirky form and surprising ending, White Rabbit Red Rabbit might well be the popular favourite at this year’s WTF!

 

 

Ikatan Balinese Day Spa

I should tell you that on Saturday, following the performance of Parah, and a spectacular dinner of seafood and tapas downstairs with beautiful friends, Sam and I shot off to QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre to catch The Pitch & The China Incident so those reviews are also COMING SOON! In the meantime, I’m teaching at MFAC again tomorrow, sending some lucky winners to The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain tomorrow night, and psyching up for the week – another massive one – that sees us at La Boite’s Education Launch on Tuesday night, back at the Powerhouse for the Gob Squad’s Kitchen on Wednesday night, back at La Boite for Holding the Man on Thursday night, in Mooloolaba for The Pirate Show on Friday night (note to self: learn lyrics between now and sound check!), and the Powerhouse again for I Heart Alice Heart I & The Last Supper on Sunday. Phew!

 

 

Do you know what I’m really looking forward to after that? Sleep! (Possibly sometime in April!), and some glorious time out on Saturday at  Ikatan! A little bit of Bali in Noosa, it’s just what I need, between WTF and the madness of March! Bring on the Coco-luciousness!

 

13
Feb
13

WTF 2013 begins tonight!

223405-526-7

WTF BEGINS TONIGHT

It’s Mum’s birthday so I’m taking her out! Tonight we’re seeing the Australian premiere of Pan Pan’s production of Ibsen’s classic, A Doll House. I’m looking forward to seeing what this innovative Irish group have done with it. Tomorrow night, Sam and I will see Parah – another Australian premiere – by Malaysian theatre makers The Instant Cafe Theatre Company. Perhaps not the most romantic option in Brisbane for Valentine’s Day (read about it here), but we love doing dinner and a show together so it’s fine. And look, if you’re seeing anything at the Powerhouse, anytime of year, try the dining options at the venue. Bar Alto is excellent Italian cuisine in a sleek, dark interior, and Watt Bar + Restaurant is a little more relaxed, overlooking the water.

Watt Bar + Restaurant

You can’t really go wrong at WTF! There is so much on, showcasing many new and unique artists, as well as those we know and love, that even if you find you don’t LOVE a show, you’ll be glad you went, to experience the vibe and the theatre here, there and everywhere. There is literally something for everyone at WTF!

Hot on the heels of their presentation of The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane in New York, North America and New Zealand and following on from their beautiful interpretation of Beckett’s All That Fall in 2011, comes a new Irish production from Pan Pan for 2012: A Doll House.

In 1887 Strindberg claimed that ‘the theatre is a weapon’. Eight years earlier, Ibsen proved it with A Doll’s House. And he still does whenever the play is imaginatively performed. As Shaw prophesied in 1913: ‘There comes a time…when the parable of the doll’s house is more to our purpose than the parable of the prodigal son’.

Its Christmas and Nora Helmer is going crazy squirreling away presents and decorations, spending the money her husband hasn’t yet earned as the new bank manager. But don’t worry – Pan Pans version of Henrik Ibsens modern classic doesn’t dwell on the current recession. They’re looking at communication, relationships, and social conventions and how we are first and foremost human beings. After all, people shouldn’t always be thinking of themselves, especially women.

Gavin Quinn says of this production: Pan Pan’s new version of Ibsen’s A Doll House, (the world’s first great prose drama which at the time exploded like a bomb into contemporary life) will be the opening show of the ‘new’ Smock Alley Theatre. Smock Alley was originally a theatre in the 17th Century and hosted the Irish Premiere of Hamlet.

This version of A Doll House will examine the like- and unlikeability of these famous Ibsen characters and how they can still connect to today’s supposedly restless age.

“My conception of the audience is of a public each member of which is carrying about with him what he thinks is an anxiety, or a hope, or a preoccupation which is his alone and isolates him from mankind; and in this respect at least the function of a play is to reveal him to himself so that he may touch others by virtue of the revelation of his mutuality with them. If only for this reason I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone.”

– ARTHUR MILLER

Gathering to witness a performance may be the oldest of human rituals after sharing a meal.

Whether sitting in the sands of the Great Victoria Desert watching song cycles, watching wayang in an Indonesian village, or a musical in the West End, we are participating in the same ancient and very human ritual. In classical Greek and Roman societies, theatre was performed only in festivals. Brisbane Powerhouse gathers the best in contemporary theatre from Australia and around the world to create a true festival, a community gathering where our thoughts and emotions are shared. World Theatre Festival is about seeing a show, but it is also about sharing the experience with the performers and fellow audience members.

We are very excited about the program; it is strong, diverse and at times surprising. We encourage you to come along and come often; come with partners, friends or alone and be a part of World Theatre Festival.

Andrew Ross, Director
Sarah Neal, Head of Programming
Zohar Spatz, Producer

A Doll House

 

 

 

 

 

29
Oct
12

A Tribute of Sorts

A Tribute of Sorts

A Tribute of Sorts

La Boîte Indie & Monsters Appear

The Roundhouse

24th October – 10th November 2012

 
Reviewed by Sam Coward

 

This show had its start at the Brisbane Powerhouse earlier this year, enjoying a showing in the Scratch Series during WTF. A Spectacular of Sorts became A Tribute of Sorts

 

It was strange to see a proscenium arch in the roundhouse, but as we’ve seen in the La Boîte Indie season already, anything goes. As we saw again on Thursday, at the opening night of Benjamin Schostakowski’s A Tribute of Sorts, anything did! A warm and receptive opening night house attended to kick off what I’m sure will be another sell-out season for La Boîte and a personal triumph and a fitting farewell for the enigmatic Adam Brunes. Well, sort of. Children of War (14th November – 1st December) completes the 2012 season.

 

Benjamin Schostakowski’s brand of humour had the crowd in stitches from the get-go. A simple story beautifully told; an inappropriate love story and an alphabetically presented series of unfortunate events served with a delicious double dollop of rich black comedy that had the hallmark laughter followed by heads hung in shame. (You can’t laugh at that!).

 

Schostakowski’s pen has crafted a delightful romp, with only a few flat spots that I’m certain will evolve as the season progresses. The direction is light and nimble and has clearly allowed the performers a wonderful opportunity to play.

 

A Tribute of Sorts Dash Kruck & Emily Curtain

Dash Kruck, as the anal-retentive, highly motivated, “professional” Ivan, is disarmingly charming. His comic timing and deadpan delivery provide a stable foundation for the early comedy of the piece.

 

Not to be outdone, Emily Curtain shows us a wonderfully wounded and pathetically love struck Juniper. She beautifully manipulates her long limbs awkwardly, and her comic delivery, like Kruck’s, inspires belly laughs and dry-retch moments. It’s an empathy earning, honest performance and a mini showcase for Curtain’s stunning vocal sound effect ability. What a talent! Who knew?! *removes tongue from cheek*

 

The comic style of the piece brought to mind the dark humour of The Kransky Sisters. Some clever devices are incorporated and a vintage setting creates depth and shadows. The ending may prove unpopular but I loved it! You can’t laugh at that! But I did.

 

A Tribute of Sorts is richly dark, irreverent and piss funny. You’ll love it and then hang your head in shame for laughing so hard!

 

 

COLD AND NEED

HALLOWEEN UNLOCKED SPECIAL

WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER, 7:30PM

Following the 6.30pm performance of A Tribute of Sorts

La Boite Indie Unlocked

11
Apr
12

backbone youth arts ensemble

Backbone Youth Arts have extended the closing date for applications for their annual performance Ensemble! The Ensemble is a great opportunity for any performing artists seeking to expand their ideas of performance and train with industry professionals. Last year’s Backbone Ensemble group performed their Ensemble show at the 2012 World Theatre Festival-Scratch Series at Brisbane Powerhouse! So the Ensemble can take you places…

The Backbone Ensemble is an audition entry initiative to provide training and performance opportunities to young performance makers who wish to create work at the cutting edge of contemporary performance.  The Ensemble is placed to explore these exciting new developments in performance:

  • outside the silos of classical actor/director/writer paradigms
  • by exploring and defining new performance spaces and audience engagement
  • by interfacing with contemporary and emerging technological platforms
  • by utilising hybrid art modalities and site specific work

Apply for this three-month training course led by contemporary performance director, Emma Che Martin, new media director, Daniel Flood and guest industry practitioners. You will work towards a devised performance, learn core producing skills to develop your career as a performance maker and meet like-minded artists.

 

The Ensemble 2012

 

WHEN: Mondays 9.30am – 4.30 pm and Thursdays 9.30am – 12.30pm, 13 April – 14 July 2012 (week intensive 16 – 20 April)

WHERE: The Edge, State Library of Queensland, South Brisbane.

APPLICATIONS CLOSE: Friday 13th April 5.00pm.

INTERVIEWS: To be confirmed with successful applicants.

COST: $250.00 payable upfront or in five $50.00 installments.

CONTACT: Please email andrew@backbone.org.au or call 07 3210 2666

 

Backbone also have a new Performance Ensemble for people with disabilities. Working with Director and dramatherapist, Kimberley Twiner and arts worker, Anna Molnar, this group of 12 performers started training at The Edge, State Library Queensland at the end of Feburary. More news soon!

 

Sons of Sin by The Danger Ensemble. Photo by Eli Walton.

 

The Pact – World Theatre Festival from Backbone Youth Arts on Vimeo.

23
Feb
12

Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2

Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2

Powerhouse Theatre

MOTUS (Italy)

 

 

Billed as an “intensely physical performance by one of Italy’s most adventurous companies famed for its take-no-prisoners theatrical style,” I couldn’t help but remember something that those who have travelled extensively usually mention upon their return.  “There’s good and bad and… interesting theatre everywhere,” they say. Let’s call Too Late (Antigone) Contest #2 interesting theatre. There is something sacred about sharing the space in which a work so intense and challenging happens and there is something slightly bemusing too. I may well be the only person in the entire western world who doesn’t love this particular piece of touring contemporary theatre.

 

Once we get past the title, which implies that one might like to have a certain level of understanding about the original ancient Greek story, which inspired Sophocles to write the play upon which Bertolt Brecht based his version in 1947, we enter a dark, open space within the Powerhouse theatre; a configuration I’ve not seen before. The audience is a typical festival crowd (yes, there’s such a thing) of newbies and hard-core theatre types, including performers from some of the other festival productions. A long, narrow strip of garish, greenish light delineates the performance space (the audience is seated on both sides of it) and two actors, one at either end, pace and sit and stand and stretch and prepare – for what seems like an eternity (Brecht’s 1977 version had the company of actors on stage throughout, in full view of the audience, forever fixing their make up and preparing for their scenes) – for a series of mini battles, which represent the recent political upheaval in Italy as much as they do the unsavoury events of the original tale. These battles intermixed with commentary from the actors as actors; make up the non-narrative structure of the show.

 

The original shocking story, briefly, for the uninitiated and for those who surfed rather than attend their Ancient History lectures (fair enough), goes like this: Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta (yes, you read that right), desires to bury properly, according to tradition, her brother, deemed traitorous by the king, Creon. Antigone elects to bury her brother’s body herself and she is captured and punished for breaking the law. In typical ancient history feminine I’m-as-empowered-as-a-prostitute-with-a-pimp response, she hangs herself. Haimon, the son of Creon who loves her, kills himself after finding her body.

 

 

At one point, one of the actors makes a reference in English, to the English surtitles; a wry dig at contemporary theatre that, unfortunately, didn’t go down so well with this particular audience, perhaps because there were those nodding their heads in agreement with the sentiment, “I hate contemporary theatre!”

 

The two actors, Silvia Calderoni and Vladimir Aleksic, play with power and status from the outset, becoming dogs, on all fours, barking and growling at each other before they become more obvious characters from ancient or current politics. They are highly physical, though not frighteningly physical; the Brechtian devices ensure that we remember they are actors in a play and, though relaxed, they are poised, ready for anything (and we’ve seen riskier moves in other productions). The androgynous-looking Calderoni (think Aaron Carter half dressed as Lisbeth Salander) literally throws herself into an early scene and onto Aleksic’s shoulders, beating him and kicking to bring down the low-set lighting rig above her. The most disturbing tactic, though used once too often, is a hug of the extreme (choking, suffocating) kind, which, when coupled with the amplified gurgled, strangulated sounds of the suddenly fragile Calderoni clasped beneath (for what seems a rather unreasonable length of time) the taller, broader figure of Aleksic, is quite chilling.

 

 

We know that a Brechtian piece particularly, and much of our contemporary theatre is designed to dissatisfy, prompting us to question the bigger issues in our dull little lives, to recognise the contradictions of living and to remember that even the good folk suffer. We see it and we know it to be true and yet it seems unfamiliar. It’s okay then, to leave the space feeling uncomfortable. That’s the idea.

 

Too Late! (Antigone) Contest #2 is not everyone’s cup of tea but if you see it’s coming to a theatre near you, I say, go. While it wasn’t my favourite thing on the menu, it was the Green Eggs and Ham show. And I know you think you don’t like green eggs and ham. But try it and you may, I say. (Who am I to tell you that the Brioche is better?) Be prepared to sit and concentrate for 55 minutes and observe from the outside in; this is an interesting show, guaranteed to get you thinking – and talking – long after you’ve left the venue.