Le Deux Mondes @ The Playhouse
8:00pm, Fri 15 Mar 2002
Short Review: Visually stunning… but cold
Let’s get one thing straight from the outset – I really do think this was a visually stunning piece of theatre. Le Deux Mondes have produced some beautiful, innovative visual effects which are a treat for the eye; unfortunately, there is little here to treat the heart.
The plot is simple: a woman reads a letter written by her mother, telling her of the horrors of the time of her conception. Flashback – woman (Rosa – the aforementioned mother) meets man (Pierre) in an ambiguous country about to be ravaged by war. They fall in love (“love is naive”), then are torn apart – he becomes the reluctant enemy. Rosa is raped; Pierre suffers both physical and mental torture in the war. They re-meet in peacetime; the daughter is born (from love or hate?), then Rosa abandons both her and Pierre. Simple, huh?
The real star here was the visual effects. All manner of screens, backlighting, shadows, and projections are used to create some of the most magical effects I’ve ever seen on stage. Even “simple” lighting is used to great effect. The opening scene of the play almost bends the eye with a shimmering screen separating mother and daughter in space and time. The love scene, with streaming “flames”, was stunning; the train “window” effect clever; the trick of a silhouette “falling” into a projected movie was brilliant. All this was accompanied by lush musical arrangements.
So, a satisfying aural and visual feast – unfortunately, I found it utterly impossible to feel anything during the piece (other than “oooh, pretty”). No character empathy, no shock, no horror. For a piece supposedly about the “cold brutality of war”, some level of emotion might have been expected… Nope. Nada. Not a sausage. A shame, really; any amount of connection with the characters may have made this a cracker; alas, ’twas not to be.
(As a footnote: this performance also contained probably the most awkward 30 seconds of theatre ever… the performance had ended, but the audience was unsure whether this was actually the case, or whether another neato visual effect was forthcoming. Bravo to the brave soul that started the applause.)