Jet of Blood (FringeTIX)
Ignite @ Space Theatre
8:45pm, Fri 9 Mar 2007
The little postcard blurb for this show states “A Young Man falls asleep and wakes to find himself in the surreal landscape of his subconcious. In this nightmarish world he embarks on a quest for the unknowable and is confronted by his darkest fears.”
I’m telling you right now: that’s complete bullshit.
There’s no identifiable plot. Despite the fact that it’s an adaptation of Antonin Artaud‘s Jet de Sang, there’s absolutely no coherency to the piece – save the fact that you’re observing a constant pool of characters. There’s no logic, no consistency, no point.
But if you put all that aside, and simply view the piece as a series of small surreal segments, then it’s actually quite enjoyable. Ludicrous, certainly; jaw-droppingly, head-shakingly obscure, oh yes. But there’s no doubt this is an impressive visual and sonic spectacle.
It gets of to a shaky start; after watching the audience file into The Space, Death sits at the side of the stage sipping from a cup of tea. A terribly contrived “shut the fuck up” to the sound crew kills the music, and then the dramatic start to the piece proper – with the plush red curtains at stagefront falling down to reveal our principals – is rendered laughable as the curtains get stuck. Jiggle jiggle jiggle, and the crew finally get the play underway – and the surrealism for surrealism’s sake begins.
There’s a Knight, played as a child, wearing a gladiator’s chestplate and nappies; there’s a Nurse with heaving bosoms spitting grain and scorpions in her nether regions; there’s a man getting crushed by falling fruit for no apparent reason (a common theme); there’s a bizarre chase sequence with a spider that appears to be made of a bike helmet; there’s characters skipping a rope of intestines; there’s Whores spitting milk onstage; there’s a really crap (namesake) jet-of-blood sequence. Near the end of the performance, a person sitting in the audience gets slapped by a cast member because their mobile phone goes off; given their position in the crowd, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was actually part of the performance – believe it or not, that would make more sense than anything else that happened.
The real star of the show, though was the audio – there was a wonderfully caustic backing track, and characters on-stage were miked up in really creative ways to induce a really unsettling experience. And that typifies the problem here – Jet of Blood is a fantastic technical achievement (with the exception of the aforementioned curtains), but the content was simply not there. Lots of style, bugger all substance. Great to watch, but $25 worth of surrealism? Nup.